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The Life of 


JOSEPH WRIGHT 


By ELIZABETH MARY WRIGHT 


VOLUME I 


London 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 
Humphrey Milford 
1932 





OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

AMEN HOUSE, EC 4 
LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW 
LEIPZIG NEW YORK TORONTO 
MELBOURNE CAPETOWN BOMBAY 
CALCUTTA MADRAS SHANGHAI 

HUMPHREY MILFORD 

PUBLISHER TO THE 
UNIVERSITY 


PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



PREFACE 


. ‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, 
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are 
lo'^ely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there 
be any praise, think on these things ’ — Phthpptans iv 8 

J OSEPH WRIGHT’S life was made up of ‘these thmgs’, and 
it is only meet and right that those who never knew him 
and those who will come after him should be given opportumty 
to read in the record of his days on earth how consistently he 
lived and worked from childhood to old age on these guidmg 
principles. 

His was a life of dedication of conscious power to great tasks 
imdertaken for the sake of others. 

The romance of his boyhood and self-education has been the 
theme of coimtless newspaper paragraphs with sensational 
headings, such as, ‘From Donkey-boy to Professor!’; ‘Mill- 
boy’s Rise to Fame!’; ‘Professor who could not read or write 
at 15!’ &c., which appeared whenever any notable step in his 
career brought him before the public eye. These accounts 
were in general outhne fairly accurate, but this Biography will 
be found to contain many vivid details hitherto unknown. We 
began it together in 1928, and the stdty of the hardships under- 
gone by his mother and himself in their struggle to rise out of 
the dire poverty to which circumstances had reduced them is 
told mainly m his own words. Indeed, all the early part cover- 
ing the years previous to 1882, when he went as a student to 
. Germany, is autobiographical; I acted so far as his secretary. 
For some of the rest of the book he dictated notes to help me 
in collecting material, but the time soon came when he was too 
weary to be troubled to reawaken old memori^, and I laid 
the book compietdy aside for a year or more. When I took it 
up again, the whole world was for me a changed place, and 
with it had changed the future contmuation of the Biography. 
It must now be my memorial to the great nuin whose closest 
friend and companion I had been for thirty-four years. The 



VI 


PREFACE 

one object of my existence would be to devote the time and 
strength yet allotted me to making that memorial as worthy 
as lay within my powers of attainment. 

Joseph Wright himself when we discussed writing this record 
of his life and work always said: ‘The one thing I wish to be 
remembered by is the Dialect Dictionary.’ That is, of course, 
his biggest achievement, and the history of the makmg of the 
Dialect Dictionary is a tale of heroic adventure crowned with 
lastmg success. Dr. John Johnson — ^the Prmter to the Uni- 
versity — ^said of it: ‘Certainly there was no other man in the 
world who could have done what Professor Joseph Wright did. 
Elsewhere it has needed Umversities to do what he did single- 
handed.’ 

The motto Joseph Wright used to put on the title-page of 
his Grammars might serve as a motto for this Biography : 

Nur das Beispiel fuhrt zum Licht; 

Vieles Reden thut es mcht. 

It is the example of his life even more than the recital of, tasks 
he achieved which should prove useful to future generations, 
and therefore I have tried to set forth the greatness of his 
personality as it was manifested m his everyday life. I have 
tried to show him as a man with intellectual gifts capable of 
gigantic feats of leammg; with a strength of will which 
triumphed over difficulties ; with a soul that soared to spiritual 
heights where dwell the great poets; and withal a man with 
a heart full of kindly human sympathy, natural and simple as 
a child, without one spark of vanity. Always the lowly and the ■ 
unlearned looked up to him as disciples to a beloved master, 
never as envious or abased inferiors to an overbearing lord. 
The companions he had left behind in his native village gloried 
in his rise, and when the world sang his prhises their hearts 
swelled with pnde: he was stdl their own Yorkshire ‘lad’ 
unspoiled by fame. 

Yoimg men who never came into personal contact with him 
have been spurred on to brave adverse fortune and have 



Vll 


PREFACE 

pressed forward with renewed courage drawn from the example 
of Joseph Wright’s boyhood. 

Still more remarkable was the deep and lasting impression 
he made on the succeeding generations of Oxford students who 
gathered roimd him on Sunday afternoons, and were gladdened 
and inspired by his genial humour and his fund of interesting 
talk. Many a whilom undergraduate remembers him not as 
“a famous scholar so much as a welcoming host, whom to know 
was to love. Hence I have given space in my picture for some 
account of our ‘Sunday teas’. 

My task in completmg the unfinished Biography has been 
a difficult one, because the best of what I had to say — what I 
now felt I ought to reveal to others — ^belongs to the very depths 
of my being; and also because the real greatness of Joseph 
Wright was so perfectly natural, so elemental in its purity and 
simphcity, that I found it almost impossible to convey it in 
writing without laying myself open to the charge of exaggera- 
tion or insmcerity. His whole character and everything he did 
was ‘Jjig’, and had its source in goodness and beauty and truth, 
and when one thinks of these unseen realities words seem small 
and artificial. 

I do not pretend that my Biography has been compiled on 
any recognized or conventional lines — ^rather the very opposite. 
I have followed the dictates of my own mind and heart. In 
so domg I have taken for my support one of Joseph Wright’s 
favourite maxims. To give it m his own words, from the 
report of a speech he made at the openmg of the Windhill 
” Library: 

The great thing m hfe is to try to please everybody, but that is 
impossible Personally I always feel that the real thing is to be quite 
sure one is pleasing one’s self. If a person pleases himself he always has 
the satisfaction knowmg that at any rate one person m the world is 
pleased. If a person thoroughly and conscientiously pleases himself the 
probability is that he pleases the majority also * 

In conclusion I must express my most grateful thanks to 

* Vide Skipley Times and Express, Jan la, 1906 



Vlll 


PREFACE 

many kind friends to whom I owe much help and very valuable 
material. My special thanks are due to Professor Holthausen 
who sent me letters he had preserved written to him by Joseph 
Wright between 1886 and 1926, and who procured for me the 
photograph of the ‘Junggrammatiker’ taken at Heidelberg In 
1886; to Professor Curtis and Professor Hartmg for further 
letters, to Professor Sutterlm for his reminiscences of Joseph 
Wright as a German University student; to Mr. William* 
Fleming, editor of the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, for per- 
nussion to incorporate the excellent photograph chosen for the 
frontispiece of the book, and others taken by his stalf photo- 
grapher, and to him and Mr. Charles Wade for much informa- 
tion connected with the Thackley district and the Wnght 
family; to Sir Charles Firth for his constant interest and good 
advice, and especially for his expert help m the chapter dealmg 
with Oxford Umversity ; to Mrs. Brook and Miss Joyce Bishop 
for reading my manuscript stage by stage, and for supportmg 
me m my work by their enthusiasm and ever-ready encourage- 
ment; to the lady assistants on the editorial staff of the Djalect 
Dictionary — ^in particular Miss Partridge — ^who supplied me 
with interestmg details of the organization and general routme 
of work in ‘the Workshop’; and finally to Dr. John Johnson, 
who, with unlimited kmdness, has selected all the illustrations, 
and has in fact done for me everything needful for the con- 
version of my crude manuscript into a shapely book. 


On^ord, 1932. 


ELIZABETH MARY WRIGHT. 



CONTENTS TO VOLUMES I AND II 
VOLUME I 

INTRODUCTION . 


CHAPTER ONE. YORKSHIRE . II 

• I THE WRIGHTS . II 

II. JOSEPH Wright’s mother 19 

III. EARLY BOYHOOD . . .25 

IV. EDUCATION . 36 

V SCHOOL TEACHING . . 58 

VI JOSEPH Wright’s brothers . . . 70 

CHAPTER TWO. GERMANY . 74 

HEIDELBERG . . . 74 

LEIPZIG ..... *94 

CHAPTER THREE. EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD . . .107 

APPOINTMENTS . ... . I07 

THE DEPUTY-PROFESSORSHIP. . . . . 121 

NO 6NORHAMROAD . . 12 $ 

TEACHING . 130 

PUBLICATIONS . . .136 

CHAPTER FOUR ROMANCE. . . 140 

I. ELIZABETH MARY LEA ... 140 

II. STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT . . . .178 

HI. ENGAGEMENT ...... 221 


VOLUME 11 

CHAPTER FIVE. ENGLISH DIALECT DICTIONARY . 349 


THE ENGLISH DIALECT SOCIETY ..... 349 

GENESIS OF THE EJ).D. ..... 351 

EDITORSHIP ... . . - . . 352 

COLLECTION OF MATERIAL ...... 355 

QUESTION OF FINANCE ...... 363 



CONTENTS 


X 

CHAPTER FIVE (cotittnued) 

THE WORKSHOP AND STAFF 379 

MEMORIAL TO MR. BALFOUR 39I 

ISSUE OF PARTS . 397 

THE DIALECT GRAMMAR ^23 

COMPLETION OF THE E D D 434 

CHAPTER SIX LATER WORK 438 

I, PUBLIC LECTURES 438 

II. HONOURS . . 443 

III. FIRST SERIES OF GRAMMARS 449 

IV WAR-TIME AND ILLNESS 458 

V. LATER SERIES OF GRAMMARS 476 

CHAPTER SEVEN. UNIVERSITY PROBLEMS 487 

I THE ENGLISH SCHOOL 487 

II, ENGLISH COURSE FOR FOREIGNERS 495 

III MODERN LANGUAGES . 499 

IV. HEBDOMADAL COUNCIL; UNIVERSITY ORGANIZATION, LATER 

HONOURS . 518 


CHAPTER EIGHT. HOME LIFE 
I. THE CHILDREN . 

II. THE DOGS 
III THACKLEY 
rV HOLIDAYS 
V RETIREMENT 


• 524 

• 5H 
560 
581 
612 

. 646 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

VOLUME I 


Joseph Wright in Ellar Carr Lane, Thackley, August 1928 

By kind permission of the Bradford Telegraph and Argus FvoitttSpiece 


I Park Hill House, Thackley facing page 14 

By kind permission of the Bradford Telegraph and Argus 

II Joseph Wright’s Mother, aged seventy „ „ 20 

III, Saltaire Mill „ „ 30 

J W has initialled the room where he worked 

IV Earliest Photograph of Joseph Wright „ „ 32 

‘Taken when I was a young man of twelve ’ 


V Group of Woolsorters 

J W , aged nineteen, standing on the right 


» 3 ^ 


VI Wellington Street, Windhill „ „ 46 

No 6 IS the third house in the row on the right 
By kind pemussion of the Bradford Telegraph and Argus 

VII Group of ^unggrammatiker’, Heidelberg, 1886 „ „ 74 

Reading from left to right Drs Albert Thumb, Howard P 
Jones, M Dittmar, Hermann Osthoff, Ferdmand Holthausen, 
Bernhard Kahle, Ludwig Sutterlin, Victor Michels, Joseph 
Wright 


VIII Cartoon drawn from memory by John Hassall facing page 82 

IX. Student Group, Leipzig, 1887 » » 96 

Drs Joseph Wright, Peter Giles, Victor Michels, Wilhelm 
Streitberg 


X Holiday Group, Madonna di Campiglio 
J W with Herr Wmter and his son Carl 

XI. E M. Lea, j§ed four 

XII Joseph Wright, June 1896 

(Photograph Hills & Saunders ) 


. factngpc^e 128 

» » 150 

„ „ 246 


XIII. E. M. Lea, July 1896 . „ „ 250 

XIV Page of a Letter from Joseph Wnght to E M.Lea „ „ 314 



XU LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



VOLUME II 



E. M Wnght, 1923 

Frontispiece 

(Photograph Elliott & Fry ) 



XV Letter sent to Newspapers appealing for matenal 


• 

for the EDD 

facing page 

XVI, XVII, XVIII Three stages of Specimens of the 



EDD between pages 370 and §71 

The manuscript notes are by Horace Hart 



XIX Page of Prospectus of the E D D 

facing page 372 

XX Page of Prospectus of the EDD for America 

J J 

» 374 

XXI List of Patrons of the E DD 


.. 378 

XXII Letter appealing for Subscribers 


n 380 

XXIII The Workshop 

>> 

» 382 

XXIV Letter appealing for Readers 


» 384 

XXV The EDD Staff in September 1896 

>9 

388 

From left to right {standing) Miss Yates, Miss 

Hart, 

Miss 

Horsley, {sitting) Miss Eagleston, Mr Mayhew, the Editor, 

Miss Partridge 



XXVI Letter sent out with the Memorial to Mr Arthur 



Balfour 

facing page 392 

XXVII Joseph Wright in his Study, 1925 

>9 

„ 482 

(Photo Press ) 



XXVIII. The Portrait by Ernest Moore, 1926 

>9 

„ 486 

XXIX The Taylor Buildmg and Umversity Galleries, 



1847 

99 

» 500 

XXX Mary, aged three months 

99 

>> 5^4 

XXXI. Willie Boy, aged one year, Mary, aged two 

99 

» 534 

XXXII Mrs Wright with her two Grandchildren, 1900 

99 

» 538 

XXXIII. ‘Thackley’, Oxford 

99 

» 582 

XXXIV, ‘Stonelands’, Littondale 

99 

„ 620 

XXXV, On the Moors and the River Ribble near Se^^tle 

99 

» 630 



INTRODUCTION 

J OSEPH WRIGHT was bom on October 31, 1855, the 
village of Thackley, in the township of Idle, about three 
miles north of Bradford, in the county of Yorkshire. 

Thackley, though until comparatively recent times in the 
parish of Calverley, belonged to the township of Idle, as did 
also Wmdhill and the upper part of it called Woodend. Hence, 
Joseph Wnght, worker by name and nature, bom in Thackley, 
and bred in Wmdhill, could make the seemingly paradoxical 
statement in perfect good faith: T have been an idle man all 
my life, and shall remain an idle man till I die.’ Newspapers, 
too, have found in this name a joke too good to be passed over 
in silence. To any one bom ‘down South’, to hear a place like 
Thackley, or still more so, Wmdhill, spoken of as a ‘village’, 
sounds a singular misnomer. The word conjures up a picture 
of thatched roofs and whitewashed or ancient red-bnck walls, 
surroimded by hollyhocks, interspersed with beehives, and m 
the rear, rows of fat and comfortable cabbages. We think of 
the approach to these dwellings, along leafy lanes, bordered by 
hedgerows smelling of honeysuckle and wild roses, with a back- 
groimd of green meadows and white sheep. At least, we did 
picture all this before the rising tide of motor trafSc covered 
the hedges in dust, or swept them away altogether, and even 
condemned the time-honoured chestnut-tree to spread its arms 
over a lurid row of petrol pumps. Very different are these 
places where the workers dwell on the outskirts of a big indus- 
trial Yorkshire town such as Bradford or Leeds. The houses 
are built of grey stone, and roofed with Yorkshire stone slates, 
plain and practical domiciles, even almost picturesque, m so 
far as they are’ifi harmony with the whole landscape. They 
stand generally in rows, bmlt to resist winter and rough 
weather, as they have done, and will do, for generations. 
Behind these there may be meadows, but they are fenced 
round by the characteristic ‘dry walls’ of the North that shelter 

B 



2 INTRODUCTION 

the sheep from wild winds. Many of these so-called villages 
are hke mimature towns grouped round an important mill, 
where live the workers employed by the mill, the smoke from 
the chimneys of which blackens and dims everything within its 
reach, Mrs. Gaskell,^ describing Keighley, wntes* ‘Greystone 
aboxmds, and the rows of houses built of it have a bnd of solid 
grandeur connected with their uniform and enduring hnes. 
The framework of the doors, and the Imtels of the window?, 
even m the smallest dwellings, are made of blocks of stone.’ 
She goes on to speak of the ‘grey neutral tint of every object, 
near or far off, on the way from Keighley to Haworth’, and of 
the ‘dim and lightless’ air filled with smoke from ‘the great 
worsted factones’. Stone was so generally looked upon as the 
normal and natural material whereof houses are made, that 
when the Midland Railway built a bnck house for a pointsman 
near the entrance to Apperley Tunnel, on the outskirts of 
Thackley, it was known as ‘T’brick ’Aase’ ( = house), being the 
only one in the district. 

On the rising ground above the course of the river Aire lies 
Wmdhill. The upper section of it, called Woodend, is the end 
of the wood which stretched continuously round the face of the 
hill to the beginnings of Thackley. Part of the wood still 
remams below ‘T’Owd Loin’, where it is very steep and full of 
rough boulders. Cudworth^ records that this wood was once 
the haunt of a noted highwayman, Newbrass by name The 
same authority descnbes a sensational scene on the Aire at 
Apperley Bridge beyond Thackley, On the 29th of February, 
1824, the prophet John Wroe, a follower of Joanna Southcott, 
had undertaken to substantiate his claim to pre-emmence by 
walking dryshod across the river. Some 30,000 people as- 
sembled on the bank to see the miracle, but the Aire refused to 
play Jordan to Wroe’s Joshua, and the prophbt only got wet 
for his pams. 

^ Vide The Life of Charlotte Bronte, by Mrs, Gaskell, pub by Smith, Elder, 
& Co,, 1876, pp 2, 3 

^ Round About Bradford, by William Cudworth, Bradford, 1876. 



INTRODUCTION 3 

At the extreme end of Wmdhill, dividing it from Shipley, 
runs Bradford Beck, which, according to Cudworth, was in 
olden times a pure and powerful stream, and a source of great 
fertihty. Now its waters are so permeated by dyes and refuse 
frdm mills that they are best left to the imagination m the 
words of the old song. 

May Bradford Beck roon dahn mi neck, 

If ever i ceease to luv 

The staple mdustry of Idle, including Thackley and Wmd- 
hill, was hand-loom weaving. Joseph Wnght remembers it as 
still quite common when he was young. Jonathan Wnght, the 
father of Joseph’s cousin Thomas Wright, and Thomas Deni- 
son of Idle, uncle to Joseph Wnght on the maternal side, were 
both hand-loom weavers all their lives. T used to see them 
weaving’, says Joseph Wnght, ‘in the upper story of their 
respective homes. Probably the houses were bmlt with a view 
to having a room for the hand-loom upstairs. The loom stood 
in the window, and the weaver sat with his back to it, facing his 
loom. I remember, too, Pitts the carrier, who took the pieces 
to Leeds market every Tuesday. The hand-trade died out 
entirely somewhere about the early ’seventies.’ Another of the 
old cloth-weavers whom Joseph Wnght remembers was Billy 
Peel: ‘He always wore a checker brat [ = a checked overall] to 
the end of his days. He lost all his money in a Leeds Bank 
failure ’ He is still remembered at least by name, for he has 
left his own monument in Wmdhill, in a curious architectural 
pile known as Billy Peel’s Place, an erection which he designed 
as a Druids’ Altar. A clock in a tower adjoiiung was put up to 
the memory of Sir Robert Peel, and bore this inscnption: 

When this clock doth strike the hour 
•'Ehink of the price of meal and flour. 

Billy Peel died in 1866, at the age of seventy-eight. 

As we shall see in the case of Joseph Wright’s grandfather, 
the occupation of weaving at home was often coupled with 
farming. Accordmg to Cudworth, the Idle district, as far back 



INTRODUCTION 


4 

as history goes, was purely agncultural, the woollen trade ^ 
coming in about the middle of the seventeenth century, though 
there is some evidence to show that it already existed in the 
near neighbourhood of Idle towards the end of the sixteenth 
century. Another local employment for which there is s&- 
teenth-century evidence is stone-quarrying. In olden days the 
stone was doubtless used solely in the locahty itself for houses, 
‘dry walls’, and as roofing-slates, but in more recent times the 
superiority of Idle stone has been so widely recogmzed that 
many public buildings in large towns in England, and on the 
Continent, have been built with it, and it has been exported to 
China and Austraha. Joseph Wright’s brother Dufton was 
foreman in a stone-quarry for a great many years, but now the 
quarries, locally termed ‘delfs’, are practically worked out and 
have been abandoned 

One of the earliest and most flourishing centres of the 
Co-operative Society was started m Windhill in the ’sixties by 
a group of about twelve young men. They began by buying 
a few grocenes and retailing them in the evenmgs after mill- 
hours. Joseph Wright remembered some of these pioneers and 
the people who dealt with them at their httle shop. The scheme 
took on well m Windhill, and the Society grew by leaps and 
bounds. Cudworth records that the first Report published 
mentions 33 members and a capital of £^9 5^* and some 
twelve years later the members numbered 2,700, with a share 
capital of over ^£13,000. Hundreds of people in Windhill now 
own their own houses entirely through the medium of this 
Society. The esteem in which it is held by Windhillites can, 
however, hardly be better illustrated than by quoting an obser- 
vation made by Joseph Wright’s mother when she was staying 
in Oxford. Her son was taking her round to see some of the 
Colleges, and, contemplating All Souls, he reifiajrked that there 
were no undergraduates there. Whereupon Mrs. Wnght, 

^ Historical records show that the fulling industry was carried on in Bradford 
as early as 1340 In 1472 the name of Bradford first appears m the list of towns 
in the West Riding where cloth was sold Vide The Story of Bradford, by 
Margaret C D. Law, 1913, p 68 



INTRODUCTION 


5 

always a practical woman, imwillmg to see anything wasted, 
exclaimed with fervour: ‘Eh! but it wod mak a grand Co-op*’ 
With a similar patriotic reverence for home trade, her youngest 
son, Dufton Wnght, was distressed to see Oxford Colleges 
built of stone which had been cut the wrong way of the gram, 
so that the face of it exposed to the weather peeled and crumbled. 
With the hand of a pained connoisseur he was feehng the sur- 
face of an ancient wall when a pohceman came up, supposing 
him to be some rude country bumpbn about to deface an 
academic shrine by inscribing thereon his trumpery initials. 
Dufton Wright quickly explained, and the mcident terminated 
with mutual affability. 

Before leavmg the subject of Idle and the district, it may be 
of interest to record here that Idle was one of the places not 
infrequently visited by that famous divine, and itmerant 
preacher, the Rev. Oliver Heywood,’' one of the foimders of 
Nonconformist Congregations in the West Riding of Yorkshire. 
He was bom in 1630 at Little Lever near Bolton, in Lancashire. 
His parents were strong Puntans, though he himself became 
a Royalist. He was educated at Bolton Grammar School, and 
other schools, and went up to Tnnity College, Camhndge, in 
1647. He graduated B.A. m 1650, and was ordained as a 
Presbytenan mmister m 1652, attached to Coley, one of the 
twelve ancient chapelnes of Halifax Pansh. He suffered many 
troubles because of his pohtical opinions and his religious 
activities, but nevertheless he persisted m holding conventicles 
in the houses of Presbyterians. He is known in a smgle year to 
have travelled 1400 miles and preached 105 times, besides his 
Simday duty. There are frequent entries m his Diary recordmg 
his visits to Idle, e.g. ‘(Saturday feb. 8 1667/8) according to a 

call and promise, my wife and I rode to Idle m Coverley pansh, 

• • 

^ Vide The Nonconformist Register of Baptisms^ Marriages, and Deaths, com- 
piled by the Revs Oliver Heywood and T. Di^enson, 1644-1702, 1702-52; 
generally known as the Northozoram or Coley Register, edited by J Horsfall 
Turner, 1881; and The Rev Oliver Heywood, BA,, 1630-1702, His 
Autobiography, Diaries, Anecdote and Event Books, in three volumes, edited 
by J Horsfall Turner, 1882. 



6 INTRODUCTION 

where (the place being vacant) I preacht the day after, being 
Lords day, and had a very numerous congregation’ ; ‘August 
30 1668 1 preacht all day at Idle chappell, whither god brought 
a mighty congregation, affections were moved and it may be 
some good is done blessed be god for that day, I went frftm 
home in the mormng and came home at night.’ In his Event 
Book, under the heading ‘Expenences’, he wntes : ‘Upon new- 
yeares day Jan i 7! I had a call to preach at Idle chappell, god 
wonderfully helped in handling a suitable subject of makmg all 
thmgs new Rev 21 5 — ^people were much affected, there was a 
numerous assembly.’ This was a case of bread cast upon the 
waters, for under ‘Experience’ No. 58 we read: ‘On Lords 
day morning June 4 76 there came a young man to me, bom 
at Pudsey but living with Mr. Sharp at Horton, who did 
acquaint me that god had awakened his conscience by a sermon 
I preacht at Idle a year or two agoe upon new yeares day, upon 
Rev 21 5 he had been then much affected but discovered it to 
none livmg.’ His entries in his Diary show that his preaching 
and prayers must have been both eloquent and moving: ‘I 
preacht at John Heys to a full assembly, god wonderfully helpt 
m prayer, such teares, groans, that sometimes my voyce was 
scarce heard for the noyse of peoples crys.’ An entry a few 
days later expresses his disappointment that though his mouth 
was ‘inlarged’ ‘in pat expressions’, yet ‘not my heart in affec- 
tions’. With the passing of the Toleration Act in 1689 freedom 
of worship was secured, and Heywood no longer suffered per- 
secution and excommumcation in the cause of religious non- 
conformity. Recognized assemblies were now held at Idle, as 
we learn from extant documents, such as the following: ‘Leeds, 
the 19th July, 1689. These are to certify their maiestys Justices 
of ye peace att ye Quarter Sessions Held att Leeds the day 
Above that there is a Congregation of Protesting dissenters doe 
Assemble to worship God publickly att ye house of Tho Led- 
gard m the Town of Idle and psh of Calverley. Tho Ledgard. 
John Stead.’ Another record of the same sort states that the 
assembly is held ‘att a Publick place built by ye Inhabitants of 



INTRODUCTION 7 

Idle for yt purpose in Idle Town’. This document is signed by 
one Jonathan Wright. 

We shall see later, from Joseph Wright’s own reminiscences, 
that Idle remained a stronghold of Nonconformity. 

Though Idle has never been an important place, yet its 
name is known to the historian because it formed part of the 
estate of the Plumptons, a family of some distinction in the 
Middle Ages, whose history has come down to us in their 
letters, and legal documents.^ The Plumpton Correspondence 
was published by the Camden Society m 1839, the letters here 
prmted being transcriptions made in the first quarter of the 
seventeenth century of the onginals now no longer extant. The 
family took its surname from the ‘vill’ or township of Plump- 
ton, in the pansh of Spofforth, m the West Riding of York- 
shire, three miles from Knaresborough. Amongst the letters 
is one addressed to Sir Wilham Plumpton (d. 1480) by some 
of his tenants on the Idle estate concerning certain of their 
neighbours. This letter ^ is so graphic that I cannot refrain 
from msertmg the whole of it • 

Complaynts of your servants of Hidell, John Rycroft and 
Wil Rycroft To our maister and lord. Sir Wilham Plompton, 
kmght 

Beseketh your good maistershipp all yoor tenants and servants 
of your lordshipp of Idell, Wil. Rycroft yelder, Wil. Rycroft 
yonger, John Rycroft, Henry Bycroft, and John Chalner except. 
And It please your good mastershipp to heare and consider the 
great rumor, slaimder, and full noyse of your tenants of your 
said lordshipp, att they shold be untrew peopell of their hands, 
taking goods by mean of untrewth , and for as much as the said 
Wil Rycroft yelder, Wil. Rycroft yonger, John Rycroft, Henry 
Bycroft, and Jdhli Chalner are dwelhng within your said lord- 

* Vide Plumpton Correspondence A Senes of Letters chiefly Doinestick zontten 
in the Reigns of Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VII, and Henry VIII Edited 
by Thomas Stapleton. Camden Society, 1839, vol iv. 

^ Vide Plumpton Correspondence, Letter No xxix, pp 38, 39 No date is 
given for this letter. 



8 INTRODUCTION 

ship, they all not having any kow or halves, or any other guds 
whearby they might hve, nor any other occupise, and fair they 
are beseen, and wel they fair, and att all sports and gamies they 
are in our country for the most part, and silver to spend and to 
gamemg, which they have more readie then any other withm 
your said lordship ; and to the welfare of our soveraigne lord 
the King and you, nothing they will pay, without your said 
tenants will fray [= quarrel, fight] with them, whearfore they 
are in regage [for rerage — arrears] to divers of your graves 
[ = stewards] ; and by what meanes they in this wise, with 
5 persons being in houshold, are found [ = provided for, 
mamtamed], God or some evill angel hase notice hereof. And 
as for geese, grise [=pigs], hennys, and copons, your said 
tenants may none kepe, but they are bribed and stolen away 
by night to great hurt to your tenants. And for as much as 
these persons afore rehersed are not labonng in due time, as 
all other of your tenants are, but as vagabonds live, your said 
tenants suppose more strangely by them Whearfore att 
reverence of God and m way of charitie, your said tenants 
beseketh you to call all them before you, and to sett such 
remedy m these premisses as may be to your worshipp, and 
great proffitt to your tenants, and in shewing of mikle unthrifti- 
ness, which without you is likely to grow hearafter, and your 
said tenants shall pray to Almighty God for your welfare and 
estate. 

That one of the Plumptons was a chaplain at Idle we see 
from Letters Nos. c and ci, addressed to ‘Sir Richard Plompton 
Chapleyn att Idell,’ dated Jan. 28 and 29, 1498/9. Dunng the 
Wars of the Roses, in which the family took an active part, a 
certain William Plumpton was killed m the battle of Towton 
Field near Tadcaster, in the year 1461, leaving two infant 
daughters. These children were adopted by their grandfather. 
Sir William Plumpton, and made the heirs to his estates, in the 
room of their deceased father. The old man had, however, by 
a clandestine second marriage, another son, Robert, who 



INTRODUCTION 9 

considered himself the heir apparent and future owner of the 
Plumpton property. In consequence of all this the family was 
engaged for many years in expensive lawsuits, and thereby 
became greatly impoverished. In ‘the second yeare of our 
soveraigne Lord Eung Henry the eight’ Robert Plumpton was 
m prison for debt. A pitiful letter,^ written by his wife shortly 
before this, shows to what straits she and her husband were 
reduced. They could not sell their land because the title was 
under question, and when, to raise money, they felled the 
forests on the estate, they could not sell the timber. The 
mteresting point about this letter is that here we have mention 
of a Wnght, as a tenant of the Plumptons in Idle : 

To Sir Robart Plompton, kt. be thes letter delivered. 

Sir, in the most hartyest wyse that I can, I recomend me 
unto you. Sir, I have sent to Wnght of Idell for the money 
that he promyst you, and he saith he hath it not to len, and 
makes choses [? excuses] and so I can get none nowhere. And 
as for wood, ther is none that will bey, for they know ye want 
money, and without they myght have it halfe for nought, they 
will bey none ; for your son, William Plompton, and Thomas 
Bickerdyke hath bene every day at wood sence ye went, and 
they can get no money for nothing, — ^for tha will bey none 
without they have tymmer trees, and will give nothing for 
them: and so shall your wood be distroyed and get nought for 
it. Sir, I told you this or ye went, but ye wold not beleve me. 
Sir, I have taken of your tymmer as much as I can get of, or 
[before] Whitsonday farme [= tax, or charges due] forehand; 
and that is but htle to do you any good, for ther is but some 
that will len so long afore the tyme. And your Lenten stoufe 
is to bey, and I wote not what to do, God wote, for I am ever 
left of thes fac^on. Sir, ther is land in Rybston feild, that 
Christofer Chambers wold bey, if ye will sel it; but I am not 
in a suerty what he will give for it. But if ye will sel it, send 
word to your son what ye will doe, for I know nothing els 

^ Vide Letter No clxu,pp 198, 199, 

c 



10 INTRODUCTION 

wherwith to help you with. Sir, for God sake take an end, for 
we are brought to begger staffe, for ye have not to defend them 
withall. Sir, I send you my mare, and iij® uij^ by the bearer 
herof, and I pray you send me word as sone as ye may. No 
more at this tyme, but the Holy Trenjttie send you good speed 
in aU your matters, and send you sone home. Sir, remember 
your chillder bookes. 

Be your bedfellow, 
Isabell Plompton. 

The lengthy quarrel ended m victory for the female line, the 
descendants of the two granddaughters of old Sir Wilham. 
In the sixteenth century part of Idle belonged to the Earl of 
Cumberland Besides deeds of sale signed by him referring to 
land in Idle and Windhill, there also exists a Survey of the 
whole Manor of Idle, which he caused to be made in 1583, 
thus furnishing many interesting details about the distnct as 
it then was. The land, for the most part, was barren ground, 
with quarries for wall-stones and slates, and many acres of 
forest. Near Bradford Beck were ‘ironsmythies’. A passage 
quoted by Cudworth states: ‘There are also withm the said 
lordship of Idle four several parcels of waste lands, viz. the 
Over Moor, Thackley, Wrose Brow, and Gawchlf Crag. The 
latter joineth with the iron-smythies and the town of Windell, 
the same is full of stones and rocks.’ The stone and iron were 
only used locally, there seems to have been no outside trading 
at this period, the pursmts of the people were purely agricul- 
tural. The Survey also mentions a Manor House, then called 
Idle Hall, surrounded by an extensive park containing ‘copious 
sprmgs’, enclosed partly by pahngs, and partly by a stone wall 
seven feet high. According to Cudworth it is from this ancient 
park that is derived the name of the farm m Tfafckley where our 
definite history of the Wnght family begins. 



CHAPTER ONE 

YORKSHIRE 

I THE WRIGHTS 

N othing is actually known about the very early history 
of the Wright family, though various living members of 
it in the district cherish various traditions. Some say the family 
goes back to one or other of the two brothers Wnght of the 
Gtmpowder Plot. John Wnght and Christopher Wright, to- 
gether with their brother-in-law Thomas Percy, were among 
the most active of the conspirators, and they certainly came 
from Yorkshire. Father Gerard^ thus descnbes the elder 
brother John: ‘Mr. John Wright was a gentleman of York- 
shire, not born to any great fortune, but hved always in place 
and company of the better sort. In his youth, and for the most 
of his time, very wild and disposed to fighting and trial of his 
manhood, as I touched before. . . . He was about forty years 
old, a strong and a stout man, and a very good wit, though slow 
of speech; much loved by Mr. Catesby for his valour and 
secrecy in carriage of any business, which, I suppose, was the 
cause why he was one of the first acquainted with this un- 
fortunate enterprise.’ Chnstopher, too, was a valiant and 
vigorous man of action, for Father Gerard further records : ‘He 
[Catesby] and his company went forward in their former pur- 
poses, and after Christmas met again and began to labour afresh 
m the mine, to work through the wall of the Parhament House, 
which they found to be difficult and long in domg. Whereupon 
by mutual consent they took m another assistant who was 
Mr. Chnstopher Wright, younger brother to John Wright, by 
whom also this f)t|ier may be known without new descnption. 
For though he were not like him m face, as being fatter and 
a lighter coloured hair and taller of person, yet he was very like 

^ The Condition of Catholics under James I Father Gerardos Narrative of the 
Gunpowder Floty ed, by John Moms, Priest of the Soaety of Jesus, London, 
1871 



12 


YORKSHIRE 


to the other in conditions and qualities, and both esteemed 
and tried to be as stout a man as England had and withal a 
zealous Catholic and trusty and secret m any business as could 
be wished’. A less romantic tradition is that the first Wright 
came to Idle as an engmeer engaged in the construction of that 
part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which runs through 
Thackley, The Canal was opened m 1767. But this second 
tradition is at once too new, and too prosaic to carry weight. 
An engineer of the late eighteenth century would have left his 
mark on the choice of calhngs followed by his descendants, and 
we know this is not the case. Further, there were Wrights in 
Idle centunes before the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was ever 
devised, from whom one would rather seek to trace the an- 
cestral line of Joseph Wright than from some stranger to the 
distnct. 

In Idle parish churchyard is a tombstone which reads: ‘In 
Memory of James Wright, of Idle, who died February 14th, 
1831, aged 77 years. Also of Mary Wnght, daughter-in-law to 
the above James Wnght, who died July 4th, 1838, aged 51 
years. Also of James Wright, of Idle, husband of the above 
Mary, who died Apnl 17th, 1863, aged 79 years ’ With the 
second James Wnght named here, who was Joseph Wnght’s 
grandfather, we come to surer ground in our search for bio- 
graphical details. His wife’s maiden name was Mary Mann, 
and she was a native of Thackley, but beyond that we know 
nothmg concerning her or her ancestors. 

James Wnght II, like many others in the district, combined 
farming and woollen cloth-makmg; his main income being 
denved from the latter industry. It is known that he onginally 
had a farm in Upper Idle, but as far as the memory of his grand- 
children goes back, he was living as a tenant farmer at Park 
Hill House, Thackley. A farm m Idle, known as Pudding Hall 
Farm, is said to have been inhabited by Wrights for a couple 
of centuries, and probably this was the onginal home of James 
Wnght II ; there is, however, no evidence to show that at any 
time the Wrights owned land m the district. Pudding Hall 



THE WRIGHTS 13 

Fann was for a considerable period the property of the Dawson 
family, till Colonel Dawson disposed of it some twenty odd 
years ago to the late Mr, Fredenck Obank of Thackley. The 
present tenant, James Garforth, is the great-grandson of James 
Wright II, grandson of the latter’s son James, who within the 
memory of Joseph Wright occupied Pudding Hall Farm, and 
at the same time ‘kept’ the Wliite Bear Inn at Idle. His 
daughter Mary married a Garforth 
Park Hill House was, and is still, the most substantial house' 
m Thackley, built of grey stone, and roofed with grey stone 
slates. It has a square and solid front, with two big windows 
on each side of the doorway, and a row of sinular windows 
above. It is, in fact, almost exactly like Haworth Parsonage, 
descnbed by Mrs. Gaskell in her Life of Charlotte Bronte, and 
has also a garden ‘twenty yards or so in depth, . . . scarcely 
wider than the house’. The stonework has all been repointed 
and the wmdows glazed with large panes, but otherwise the 
buildmg remams the same as Joseph Wnght remembers it m 
the lifetime of his grandfather At the back is a httle window 
upstairs, with small square leaded panes, the leaded divisions 
pamted white, a rehc of the ongmal type of window-panes. In 
the front is the small patch of garden, now all overgrown and 
run to seed ; and the path leading from the front door to a httle 
gate in the wall diviing the garden from the field beyond is 
covered with long grass. This field is ‘the Park’, belonging to 
the farm, and giving the name to Park Hill Road into which the 
farm gateway, at the side of the house, opened. The mam 
approach to the house in the old days was from the Leeds Road 
beyond ‘the Park’, running at right angles to Park Hill Road. 
Any one entering now by what was once the farmyard gate may 
see on his right m the foreground a scrap-heap of stones and 
’ rubbish, and iJeRmd it a tumbledown shed or two, forlorn and 
' weed-ridden. Here formerly stood two or three small cottages, 
in one of which Joseph Wnght was born. 

I Old James Wnght II lived m patnarchal style with his 
family round him. When his sons grew up and took to them- 



YORKSHIRE 


H 

selves wives, they migrated to the cottages hard by the old 
home. He had ten children, five sons and five daughters. 


Ehzabeth bom 1805; died 1886. 

William 

„ 1808 


1886 

Hannah 

„ 1810 


1890. 

Harriet 

„ 1812 

)) 

1868 

James 

„ 1814 


1878. 

Tiyphosa 

„ 1816 

5 ) 

1885. 

Dufton 

„ 1818 


1866. 

(This was the father 

of Joseph Wright.) 

Mary 

bom 1820 ; died 

1870. 

John 

„ 1822 


about i88o. 

Thomas 

„ 1824 

>> 

1908. 


It would take up too much space and time to record here all 
the numerous descendants of these ten persons, but it may be 
mentioned in passing that the Wrights seem for the most part 
to have had recourse to the Bible for Christian names for their 
children. The common names such as James, John, Thomas, 
Hannah, Elizabeth, and Mary are frequently repeated, and 
amongst the later generations may be found Jonathan, Abram, 
Seth, and a pair of twins called Aaron and Moses. It took some 
seekmg to discover in St. Paul’s Epistles the baptismal name 
of ‘Ont Foasey’ (vide Romans xvi. 12, ‘Salute Tryphena and 
Tryphosa who labour m the Lord’), perhaps she herself never 
knew whence came her unusual appellation. This bears out 
Mrs. Gaskell’s statement^ that ‘the Old Testament names in 
general use among the Puntans are yet the prevalent appella- 
tions in most Yorkshire families of middle or humble rank’. 

Old James himself farmed the forty acres of land which he 
held with Park Hill House, and the busmess of cloth-makmg 
was done by his family. There were three or four hand-looms 
on the premises, and hand-jennies besides for spiimmg the 
yam for weavmg. People who thus owned hand-looms were 
known as ‘Little Masters’. In good times, when work was 

^ Life of Charlotte Bronte^ p iz. 









THE WRIGHTS 15 

plentiful, the output of one loom would be about one ‘piece’ 
per week. People in the district still remember Jack Russell of 
Shipley, who owned two or three donkeys and a cart, who used 
to call for the cloth twice a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays, and 
take It to Leeds or elsewhere to sell. Later, William, the eldest 
son of old James, was the salesman, and went himself to Leeds 
every Tuesday to attend the market. 

Old James Wright was by nature rath^ a tyrant, in commoa 
parlance ‘a nailer’, a cruel man for bnngmg up children. He 
worked his sons very hard and kept them very short of money 
As the story goes, he would gather his sons round him on a 
Saturday mght, and fling to each a threepenny bit, with a curt 
‘Tak that’. Small wonder if, when freed from the paternal 
yoke, some of the sons^ sought relaxation in less ngorous modes 
of life. 

^ In a faded cutting from a local newspaper (vide The Shipley Express and 
Airedale Nem, April 20, 1901) is an article called ‘Ghmpses of Thackley past and 
present^ containing remimscences of the older generation of the Wnght family 
It only came into my hands recently Had Joseph Wright seen it, probably it 
would have stimulated his memories of very early days, and he would have been 
able to add further details The writer of the article says ‘The Wrights were a 
family of unquestionable abilities William, the eldest son of James Wright, was 
the village philosopher I have been acquainted with the Wright family all 
my life and worked with William the eldest, and Thomas the youngest, for over 
twenty years, at Buck Mills, m the employ of the late Mr Benj Thornton 
William was carrier, etc , and was a first-class hand at managing unmanageable 
horses Mr Thornton had an old mare, a vicious brute, which did fairly well 
with Will, but was a rough customer to anyone else Will used to attend the 
old Leeds Cloth Hall every week at one time, to sell his father’s cloth One man 
to whom Will usually sold it, employed a rather slippery foreman, who did the 
measurmg, and it took Will all his time to watch him One day he measured a 
piece two yards short of the length Will had measured it The foreman managed 
to run the yard-stick several mches over every time. Will, however, watched his 
dodgmg trick “It is two yards short”, said the foreman “Two yards short*” 
cried Will, “then the two yards comes aght o* thee”, and Will’s mighty fists sent 
him sprawlmg across the room three times the distance of the shortage. Just 
then the merchant came up, and enquired what was the matter Having been 
told, the piece was refheasured, and was exactly the length Will had ongmally 
measured it This incident, I expect, is a sample of how they did business at the 
Leeds Cloth Hall forty or fifty years smce. Will had some quamt saymgs some 
of his remarks were exceedmgly pithy, such, for instance, as “Keep thi fingers 
aght o’ mi broth”, and “A spoomful o’ dirt will spoil a basm full o’ porridge”. 
Many more saymgs pregnant with meanmg were occasionally used by him He 
was known as our local philosopher ’ 



i6 


YORKSHIRE 


Joseph Wnght recollects his grandfather as an old man with 
a broken leg, who sat m his kitchen smoking a long clay pipe. 
This he hked to have lighted at the fire, between the bars of the 
grate, but he was too lame to walk across the floor to do it for 
himself. From a very early age it was the duty of ‘Ahr Jooo’ 

[ = Joe] the first thing in the morning to go over to the big 
house and ignite the grandpaternal pipe. As part of the 
process, he was taught by the grandfather how to puff at the 
stem, to make sure that the deed was well done. Joseph Wnght 
was fond of relating this story, when telhng his friends that he 
had been a smoker ever since he was three years old. This feat 
of manly prowess was perhaps the beginmng of the family pnde 
in ‘Ahr Jooo’. When neighbours dropped m he was put by his 
father to stand on a stool, and show the company how well he 
could already smoke a pipe. From this time onwards, so he 
himself confesses, his father’s tobacco was wont to disappear 
rather quickly The addiction to a pipe never left him, the cigars 
and cigarettes of his later years were kept mainly for his fnends, 
two cigars and one cigarette a day making the sum total of his 
neglect of the familiar pipe. When various photographs of 
him were taken at Thackley in August 1928, for a Bradford 
newspaper, all with a pipe in his mouth, I said he was taking 
a leaf out of Mr. Stanley Baldwin’s book. He promptly 
rejoined: ‘I smoked a pipe long before Mr. Stanley Baldwin 
began.’ 

Joseph Wright’s father, Dufton, was old James’s seventh 
child.^ He IS thus described by his son: ‘My father was a 
cheerful, good-tempered chap, singing snatches of songs, very 
kmd and friendly, never quarrelsome. He always looked on 
the bright side of thmgs. I was always a great favounte with 
him, and I looked after him in his last illness. He was fond of 

^ The writer of ‘Glimpses of Thackley past and present’, who knew him when 
he was a young man at home, says of him in his account of the Wright family 
‘He also was a clothmaker by trade, and worked for his father mostly, he was a 
first-class arithmetician He did the spinning to keep six looms going All the 
reckonmg devolved on him He could tell to a nicety what a given weight of 
wool would produce in cloth * 



THE WRIGHTS 17 

poaching, and always kept a dog however badly off we were, 
but he never wanted to work. I remember my mother saying 
she wished ale “were orf-a-krahn a glass”, and my father said 
“Wa, lass, Ah’d saave oop wol [= till, ht. while] 1 gat orf-a- 
krahn just to ’ev an odd un.”’ 

When obhged to work, he took such jobs as he could get. 
At one time he left his native village and went north to Eston, 
near Middlesbrough, to work in the ironstone mines. That he 
was a man capable of vigorous action is shown by the following 
stories, which were furmshed me by the kindness of Mr William 
Fleming : ‘The late Mr. Charles Waterhouse, who was a quarry 
owner in the Idle distnct, and who would have been ninety 
years of age had he been ahve to-day, told me that he worked 
on the Bramhope Tunnel as a youth, along with his father, and 
he remembered Professor Wnght’s father quite well. In those 
days a practice among the navvies was to put up a purse once 
a month among the men who “fancied” themselves with their 
fists, and Mr. Waterhouse told me that on more than one 
occasion Dufton Wnght was the champion of the Tunnel ’ 
Mr. Fleming continues . ‘Mr. Hiram Lee recalls a story about 
Dufton Wright, who appears to have been noted not only for 
his physical prowess but for his darmg. On one occasion a 
Wmdhill man, named Dawson, who was given to “going off his 
head”, escaped from control, and took refuge on a fairly high 
haystack. A crowd gathered, but no one dared tackle him. At 
this moment Dufton Wnght appears to have come up, and, 
pushmg his way through the crowd, he said : “Ah’U fotch ’im,” 
and with this he climbed the haystack and secured the escaped 
lunatic.’ Other people, too, have told me that they remember 
him as a big, tall man, and very strong 

When old James Wright died, and his savings were divided 
among his large family, the money was soon spent. Dufton 
Wright came, in for about sixty pounds. His yoimgest son, the 
present Dufton Wnght, put the matter tersely: ‘He never 
struck a bat after, wol that brass were done.’ Three years later 
he died, on September 25, 1866, at the comparatively early 



i8 YORKSHIRE 

age of forty-eight, he had, as his son Dufton said, ‘brokken his 
constitution oop’. 

Behind Park Hill House there runs a narrow little country 
lane, called Ellar Carr Lane, locally pronounced ‘Lorn’ Its 
name signifies the piece of boggy land whereon the alders 
grow. If you follow this lane for about two hundred yards, and 
then squeeze through the slit in the ‘dry wall’, which in that 
part of Yorkshire does duty as a stile, you come into a field 1 :o 
the left of the lane There, half-way across the field, is the site 
where stood Croft Farm, the old home of the Atkinsons, the 
house where Joseph Wright’s mother, Sarah Ann Atkinson, 
was bom in the year 1824 The farm and outbuildings were 
pulled down some years ago, but Joseph’s cousin, Thomas 
Wnght, still living in Thackley, tells me he remembers the 
house quite well 

Joseph Atkinson — always called Atkisson locally — came from 
Rodley, a place about six miles distant from Croft Farm, 
Thackley By trade he was a hand-loom weaver like the 
Wrights. His wife’s maiden name was Hudson, and she, too, 
was a native of Rodley. They had three children, John, Mary, 
and Sarah Ann. John became a shoemaker, in which trade he 
was followed by his son Yoimg Atkinson, now a retired gentle- 
man, upwards of eighty, living in Thackley. Joseph Wnght 
remembers very little concerning his mother’s family: ‘My 
mother’s father died probably before I was bom, for I do not 
remember him. My mother. Uncle John, and Aunt Mary 
were his only three children. Aunt Mary marned Thomas 
Denison, a very good chap, a weaver, very well dressed, looked 
hke a gentleman. Aunt Mary kept a shop at Idle My Uncle 
John was a very good sort, a shoemaker by trade.’^ The field 

^ The old newspaper-cutting which I have previously quoted records con- 
cerning the Atlansons ‘Joseph Atkinson was a clothmaker He had two looms 
and a jenny in his chamber He had one son and two daughters Sarah Ann, 
the youngest, marned Dufton Wnght, the third son of James Wright, Park 
House, Thackley The Atkinsons have always been known to be a painstaking, 
diligent, and persevering people They aimed at no lofty or ambitious goal, but 
always strove to do their duty to God, themselves, and their neighbours ’ 



THE WRIGHTS 


19 

where Croft Farm stood is a fine site for a house. Behind is 
the village of Thackley, but m front and to the left and right 
the ground falls away and opens up a wide expanse of valley 
and moor, as far as the eye can see, though when we were there 
last August (1928) the valleys were so penetrated by Bradford 
smoke that every detail of the coimtryside was hid m one grey 
blur To the left is Esholt, Apperley in front, and Calverley on 
the right hand, and beneath the high ground on which Thack- 
ley stands there runs the Midland Railway Tunnel between 
Bradford and Leeds 

II JOSEPH WRIGHT’S MOTHER 

The story of Joseph Wnght’s hfe would be mcomplete without 
some account of his mother. From her he inhented many of 
those personal characteristics which have made him what he is, 
and It was her ambitious spirit, her heroism m battling through 
hardships, her dogged, selfless perseverance that lifted him on 
to the first rungs of the ladder of fortune and fame. Had Sarah 
Ann Atkmson received an education befitting her abilities, her 
name would doubtless have been writ large on the roll of 
eminent Englishwomen She had m her all that goes to make 
‘a great lady’, yet I thmk she would not have wished to change 
places with any woman on this earth, for she kved to find in her 
son’s successful career her own cup of happmess filled to the 
bnm. Other sons she had, but ‘Ahr Jooa’ was ever and always 
the apple of her eye and the pnde of her bosom. People said 
of her m later life, ‘her body is in Wmdhill, but her heart is m 
Oxford’. Joseph Wright says of her: ‘She was a remarkable 
woman, my mother, a great character. She was a very good 
talker. She was very highly respected, and had a great mfluence 
on her neighbours She was always cheerful, no matter what 
difliculties she haS to contend^ with, it was her nature to be 
always cheerful.’ An old friend of the family described her as 
, ‘a woman with a varry strong will, but straight’. At the time 
' 4 of her mamage she could neither read nor write. On a birth- 
certificate which Joseph Wright took out for himself in 1877 



20 


YORKSHIRE 


there is the regulation, ‘mark’ of the old days before compulsory 
education in the place of his mother’s signature. It was her 
devotion to ‘Ahr Jooo’, and her desire to enter as far as lay 
within her reach into the new sphere which was just then open- 
ing out to him, that made her set herself the task of learning to 
read when she was about forty-five years old. She had three 
books ; they were : the New Testament, the Pilgrim’s Progress, 
and an English translation of Klopstock’s Messiah Furtlier 
than this she did not pursue literature, but, as her son has often 
said, lack of book-learmng does not imply lack of brains 
Having so few books, she could read, mark, learn, and inwardly 
digest each one ; still, people did not come to her to seek for 
book-lore, they came to her for counsel and comfort, and none 
went empty away, for they ever found in her a sure guide, 
philosopher, and friend. Nobody who came in contact with 
Mrs. Wright could fail to be struck at once by her natural, im- 
conscious dignity, a dignity and refinement born of a common- 
sense knowledge of her own powers and worth, untouched 
by any spark of vamty or shallow conceit There was an ele- 
mental punty and goodness about her whole personahty, that 
genuine uprightness which knows not itself, but quite simply 
and instinctively follows the path of duty and service to God 
and man, and scorns self-indulgence. Shrewd, practical, and 
hard-workmg she was, with no thought of self. Joseph Wright 
has often said that he never heard tell of ‘unselfishness’ till he 
married me. He and his had always been unselfish without 
thinking or talking about it, since it was their nature and not 
a conscious virtue In fact he would set little store by any act 
done for others with a conscious feehng of virtue on the part 
of the doer. In his Dialect Dictionary he has inserted under 
Throssen-up (v. Thrust, vb.) a very characteristic speech of his 
mother’s * ‘A Yorkshire woman, when on a" visit to her son in 
the south, was asked by a lady in rather a patronizmg manner 
what she thought of south-country ladies. She replied: “Wa, 
ta tel j9t onist tnup, |?e nout bad stuk up |?russan-up pmz wi 
nout nuts abat am; Ser qal atsaid.”’ [=Why, to tell you the 





JOSEPH WRIGHT’S MOTHER 21 

honest truth, they are nothing but stuck-up, conceited things, 
with nothing much about them; they are all outside ] 

Early left a widow, it was Mrs, Wnght who brought up the 
four sons, and that on very strict lines The strictness was, 
however, not of the tyrannical sort which, m the case of the 
previous generation, bred a dislike of order and discipline, and 
of the strait and narrow path of toilsome duty. Mrs Wright’s 
rule won from her sons a natural and willing obedience and 
loyalty which remained with them in after hfe. Joseph Wright 
has often told me that if his mother said they must be home at 
a certam time at mght, they would none of them think of being 
five minutes late She never allowed them to dnnk or play 
cards, even when they were grown-up lads To her, card- 
playing, dancing, and theatre-going ranked among the seven 
deadly sins. On one occasion, when he brought home a 
volume of Shakespeare’s Plays, his mother threw the book out 
into the street, declanng she would not have such bad stuff in 
the house. The home fare was necessanly of the plainest, but 
Mrs. Wnght was a wonderful cook, and knew how to prepare 
savoury meat such as her sons loved, at the imnimum of cost 
Joseph Wnght has often talked of the dainty dish they called 
‘Scotch collops’, made of potatoes, onions, beef-dnppmg, and 
a flavouring of sage He boasted of his own expert knowledge 
of the manner of making it, and m the war-time we were glad 
enough to follow his recipe, and we frequently supped hungnly 
on his Yorkshire ‘Scotch collops’. From a sheep’s head, costing 
threepence or fourpence, she would make broth such as would 
provide an excellent dinner for herself and her growing lads. 
When Joseph Wright was once staymg at home, after he had 
come to live in Oxford, his mother complamed that the meat- 
bill for the week was ‘nearly five shillin’ ’ Even for three grown- 
up sons and herself this seemed to her gross extravagance. 
Nobody ever made such good bread — with a dash of xmlk, and 
a trifle of lard in it to make it white and soft, as is the custom 
m that part of Yorkshire — ^and her Yorkshire puddmg was food 
for the gods On our honeymoon we dined one day at the old 



22 YORKSHIRE 

home in Windhill, and, true to local custom, Mrs Wright 
brought forth the Yorkshire pudding first, before the meat, 
piping hot from the oven beside us, served with good gravy, and 
eaten with three-pronged steel forks It was a meal one never 
forgets. Joseph Wnght has often told the tale of how when 
his mother came to stay with him in his bachelor’s house m 
Norham Road, Oxford, she was shocked at the thin bread and 
butter on the tea-table * ‘A s’d tell Sarah to put less butter on 
t’ bread, shoo cuts t’breead so thin at shoo uses as mich butter 
as breead.’ She had a genius for home-made wines of vanous 
sorts: ‘cleeat-wme’, made from the flowers of the coltsfoot 
(Tusstlago Farfara), ‘bleg-wme’, made from blackberries, and 
‘dandehon-wine’. When we went to see her she would send 
Tom — ^the son who lived permanently with her — ^into the cellar 
to fetch up a bottle of her wine. Tom used to declare that he 
‘couldn’t tuch it’, but we always believed he had some out of 
the bottle on his way up the cellar steps Mrs. Wright was a 
clever needlewoman, and as she could never endure idleness, 
she occupied the leisure of her later days with fancy-work She 
would now kmt elegant tops to her son’s stockings , further, she 
bought ‘fents’ ( = remnants) of gay-coloured cotton stuffs, and 
made therefrom large patchwork qmlts. She also did elaborate 
wool-work for cushion-covers and mats, all to furnish and 
adorn ‘Ahr Jooo’s’ home in Oxford. Judged by modem stan- 
dards, they were perhaps not very artistic in design or colour, 
but they were labours of love, and no work that Mrs. Wnght 
ever did was scamped or ill-wrought. Her one luxury was a 
frequent cup of strong tea. Joseph Wnght has often quoted 
his mother as an instance to show that stewed tea does not 
necessanly kill people or ruin their nerves. When she came to 
be able to afford it, she loved to have her tea-pot simmermg 
on the hob, as she sat sewing, or kmtting, tllat she might take 
a ‘soop o’ teea’ whenever she felt disposed. She was a woman 
of a remarkably strong constitution, and even old age never 
robbed her cheeks of their hue of health. She lost all her teeth 
when quite a young woman, living m a distnct where the water 



JOSEPH WRIGHT’S MOTHER 23 

was strongly impregnated with iron, but her mouth preserved 
Its firmness of outline to the last She never replaced her loss 
by artificial teeth, yet she could eat a crust or a beefsteak 
without any difficulty. 

They were very happy together in the old home, she and 
Tom, nevertheless it was always ‘Ahr Jooo’ who possessed the 
foremost place in the maternal heart. On one occasion, shortly 
before the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebra- 
tions in 1897, Tom was reading aloud to his mother from a 
newspaper lists of foreign kmgs and potentates who would take 
part in the state procession through the streets of London. 
Presently he read out a paragraph suggesting the fear that a 
communist or a madman in the crowd might shoot at the great 
and good Queen. Mrs Wnght burst mto tears It was not, 
however, the thought of Queen Victona’s peril that moved her 
thus. It was because ‘Ahr J009’, knowing as he did every 
language under the stm, must of necessity sit beside Her 
Majesty in her coach to interpret the words of any of those 
other royal personages who might address her, and therefore 
he would be in danger of being killed by the passing shot. 
Though she looked up to him as one who had scaled heights of 
scholarship far beyond her ken, yet he was still her child, who 
must be protected by the abiding mother-love When she was 
very old, we were once taking her for a drive up Headmgton 
Hill, and she recalled her son’s having gone up there to dine 
one mght with Professor Napier, when she was staying at 
No. 6 Norham Road, before we were married. She noted the 
footpath, high above the road-level, and havmg then no hand- 
rail along the top of the precipitous bank* Tf Ah’d knooawn 
’e’d be walkm’ back bi ’isen theear I’t dark, Ah’d a gooan to 
meet ’im.’ 

The happiest portrait we have of Mrs. Wright is one taken 
at Ilkley — ^‘Eethla’ she always called it — ^with our Mary and 
Wilhe Boy. When she could no longer stand the long railway 
journey to Oxford, we went for our summer holiday to Ilkley, 
whither she could easily come to see us and the grandchildren 



YORKSHIRE 


24 

But in my mental picture of her I see her wearing the shawl 
‘Ahr Jooo’ had once brought back for her from Bozen in the 
Tyrol It was a black shoulder-shawl, with a gay border of 
magenta-coloured roses, and this was what she usually wore 
‘for best’. She died on February 3, 1903, in her seventy-mnth 
year. Her heart had been faihng for some time, and the end 
came quite suddenly and peacefully. No one was with her 
when she drew her last breath, for nobody knew she was any 
worse than she had been for some days, such was her spirit of 
independence to the very end. Joseph Wright had come from 
Oxford to see her a short time previously, alone, because I 
could not leave Mary by herself. We knew that the sands of 
his mother’s life were miming low. Cheerful to the last, she 
used to say * ‘Ah cud hve onny length o’ time, but mah inside ’s 
dun oop.’ Joseph Wright noticed that now, in these last few 
days of her hfe, her speech had reverted to the dialect as it 
existed m her girlhood. 

As long as she was able to attend a Sunday service, she went 
regularly to the Primitive Methodist Chapel m Windhill, al- 
though she always regarded herself as a Churchwoman The 
Rev. Dr. Duff in a letter dated Febmary 4, 1903, begging for 
permission to attend the funeral, speaks of ‘the tme-souled, 
far-seeing mother . . . whose presence m Wmdhill Chapel has 
been a benediction to many’. The funeral was at Idle Parish 
Church on Febmary 6. In accordance with local custom, the 
coffin was not fastened down till just before it was borne out 
of the house, and the usual ‘bur3dn’ biscuits’ — ^long, thm, 
sponge biscuits — were served round, together with wine, to the 
mourners as they gradually assembled. All sorts of people 
came to pay their last tribute of respect to her who had gone 
from their midst. Joseph Wright, in a letter written to me that 
same night, said: ‘There was no service m the chapel because 
several ministers of other persuasions expressed a wish to be 
present, mcluding Father O’Sullivan [the Roman Cathohc 
priest from Shipley] whom we met at Saltaire. There was a 
short service at the house, m which two immsters took part. 



JOSEPH WRIGHT’S MOTHER 25 

Although we had nine carnages, quite 50-60 people had to 
walk. Three vicars, vicar of Idle, vicar of Shipley, and vicar of 
Windhill, attended at Idle church. We were met at the church 
gates, and went mto the church for the greater part of the 
service. It was a beautiful sunshiny afternoon, but rather cold. 
A large number of people went straight to the church without 
coming to the house, so that there was a large congregation. 
A 3 fter everything was over, there was a large gathenng at a tea 
m the Simday School.’ 

As the funeral procession slowly wound its way to Idle 
Church, two miles distant, not only were bhnds drawn, but 
the public-houses had closed their doors. Surely this was 
striking testimony to sheer force of character, and the example 
of a hfe of love towards God and one’s neighbour. Mrs. Wnght 
never had wealth, nor what the world calls position, indeed, 
until her sons were old enough to maintain the home, she kept 
herself and them by gomg out channg. It was pure human 
worth, unadorned by any outward pomp or circumstance, that 
won for her the place she held m the hearts and minds of all 
who had the privilege of knowing her. And when her life’s task 
was fimshed, and she passed over to the Other Side, truly it 
may be said that none more fully deserved to be welcomed on 
that Farther Shore with the words; ‘Well done, good and faith- 
ful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’ 

III. EARLY BOYHOOD 

In her Life of Charlotte Bronte Mrs. Gaskell devotes a whole 
introductory chapter to presentmg ‘some idea of the character 
of the people of Haworth and the surrounding distncts’. Much 
of what she writes there about Yorkshiremen in general is 
perfectly true to-day, though it cannot now be said that there is 
‘httle display of any of the amenities of hfe among this wild, 
rough population’. Judgmg from my own knowledge and 
experience of men and manners, I should say the inhabitants of 
Idle never, within hvmg memory, formed a ‘wild, rough 
population’. Further, lovmg the Y^orkshire dialect as I do, I 

E 



a6 YORKSHIRE 

could never say . ‘their accent and tone of speech is blunt and 
harsh’. There is, however, one sentence which I would most 
heartily endorse, where she speaks of ‘the strong sagacity and 
the dogged power of will which seem almost the birthright of 
the natives of the West Riding’. ‘Each man’, she says, ‘rehes 
upon himself, and seeks no help at the hands of his neighbours.’ 
This might serve as a sort of text to a Life of Joseph Wright. 

His parents had for their first home one of the Park Hill 
Farm cottages, a tiny, one-roomed house, opemng immediately 
on to Park Hill Road, Thackley, and only a few yards from the 
Farm. Here the eldest son, Jim, was born, and in 1855 Joseph 
Wright, and Tom in 1858 The father, Dufton Wright, never 
was a worker, and the farmly became desperately poor. Some 
time in the year i860, or early 1861, Dufton Wright went 
north to Eston, near Middlesbrough, and got work in the iron- 
stone mines His wife followed, with the three little boys. 
The nuners were paid by piece-work and had to find their own 
powder for blasting Thus the family income was very pre- 
carious, for when Dufton Wnght had worked steadily for 
perhaps a fortmght he would take a holiday and spend what 
he had earned. So bare was the home that Mrs Wright used 
to say she had ‘nowt to sit on’ but the empty gunpowder 
barrels. In the summer of 1861 Mrs Wright and the children 
returned to their native district. Joseph Wright says his 
mother used to tell him a story of how his father carried him to 
the railway station at Middlesbrough, and on the way it rained 
very heavily, and httle Joe complaimng of thirst, his father gave 
him the peak of his wet cap to suck the water out of it as they 
went along. Leaving her husband behind to do the best his 
happy-go-lucky temperament allowed, Mrs. Wright sought the 
only available refuge for herself and her three ^httle boys — ^the 
Workhouse. She was penmless and homeless and no other 
door was open to her then. In Clayton Workhouse, shortly 
afterwards, her fourth son, Dufton Wnght junior, was born on 
July 3 1 , 1861 . There Joseph Wright’s own recollections began, 
he distinctly remembered living in the Workhouse, his most 



EARLY BOYHOOD 27 

vivid memory being that of the wretched and meagre fare 
doled out to a hungry child He had the courage of his opinions 
even at this early stage; like Ohver Twist, he asked for more, 
and being Joseph Wnght he got it! T was then’, he says, ‘five 
years old. I asked for a bit more bread, and the woman was 
very kind, and gave me a piece, but said: “Thah muon’t ask 
fo^r onny agian” [= You must not ask for any again].’ When 
Mrs. Wnght had sufficiently regained her strength, she took 
her courage m both hands and left the Clayton Workhouse 
with the new-born baby and three other boys. It was a 
venture which would have daunted most women, but Mrs 
Wright’s spint never quailed before any hardship So she set 
forth, a mother with four children dependent on her, and with 
not a penny in the world. Joseph Wnght says . ‘I remember we 
walked back to Idle, and then we met Will Simpson, who knew 
my mother, and he told her he would let her live m a place he 
had, and he gave her a pan, and some money to buy meal, and 
she cooked us some pomdge. It was a one-roomed cottage in 
what was called Town Lane. We had no furniture. My father 
was away at Eston, and had got into debt, and the baily 
[= baihff] came to sell up the home, and found it was only a 
hovel He gave my mother half-a-crown, and went away I have 
often since wished I knew who he was, and could have thanked 
him. We did not stay there long, my mother got bits of jobs 
out channg, and then we went to Woodend, to School Street, 
where the Primitive Methodist Chapel is, that is why we took 
to going there on Simdays. The congregation was very small 
at that time. I began going to Sunday School there, and I 
remember there was only one other lad besides myself. We 
were only m School Street a short time, and I do not remember 
much about it. ,From there we moved to the “ Spite and Mahce 
House”, where we hved for years. My father came back to us 
there, and it was there that he died m 1866.’ It was a one- 
roomed cottage, standing just off the main road, on the side of 
a mill-dam in Woodend. A ‘Spite and Malice House’ is one 
put up with intent to stop a public right of way. To do this, it 



28 YORKSHIRE 

must be built and occupied within forty-eight hours. In this 
case the Wnghts were not the first occupiers. The house has 
since been pulled down to make room for extending the imll 
premises. Mrs. Wright now went out channg, doing a long 
day’s work for which she was paid at the rate of three halfpence 
an hour. She also took in washmg, and often had to stop up all 
night to wash for herself and other people. Joseph Wnght 
says : ‘People for whom my mother worked were very kind, and 
saved up crusts and bits and gave them to her, otherwise we 
should have starved.’ He remembers, too, the ‘ ’aver-breead’ 
they used to eat: ‘flat oat-cake, made with water, and rolled 
out very thin, sold in large oval pieces, damp and flabby, 
costing a halfpenny each. You could spread them with treacle, 
roll them up, and eat them as a roly-poly pudding, or let 
them get dry, spnnkle a little pepper and salt on them, hold 
them imder a gently-dnpping tap for a moment, and then eat 
them straight off.’ He always retained a love of ‘boiled milk’ 
[= bread and milk], which also belonged to the simple fare of 
his boyhood. Milk was ‘tuppence a quart’ in those days. 

About the time when they first went to hve in the ‘Spite and 
Malice House’ Joseph Wright began to earn a few pence to- 
wards the maintenance of the home He can yet remember 
looking after the two children of some people called Sutchffe, 
thus enabhng their mother to go to work at the null. At the 
age of SIX he began regular emplojment as a donkey-boy 
He was thus able to say on his fifty-sixth birthday — ^and he did 
say it with great pnde — have earned my livmg for half a 
century.’ From seven m the morning till five m the evemng 
he drove a donkey-cart, carrying quarrymen’s tools from a 
stone-quarry at Woodend to the nearest smithy to be groimd 
The blacksmith paid him eighteen-pence per jveek, and each 
quarryman paid him a penny. The older brother Jim, hke his 
father, had a rooted distaste for work, especially for any con- 
fined, indoor occupation. He hated life in a mill, and ran away 
to sea. Joseph Wright says of him: ‘He would have turned out 
a man just hke my father, if he had stopped at home.’ Thus 



EARLY BOYHOOD 


29 

the mother’s hopes were centred on ‘Ahr Joos’ at a very early 
stage in his career, and he always took the position of the eldest 
son in the home. She was an ambitious woman, and unspanng 
in her efforts to better her children’s lot in life. The donkey- 
boy business obviously led to nothing, so in 1862, when 
Joseph Wnght was seven years old, she took him to Sir Titus 
Salt’s Mill at Saltaire to seek fresh employment there. He was 
under the legal age, but being big and strong for his years, he 
was accepted and taken on as a ‘doffer’ in the spinning depart- 
ment His wages when he began as a half-time ‘doffer’ were 
about eighteen-pence a week and rose gradually to three 
shillings and sixpence a week. It is the duty of a ‘doffer’ to 
remove the full bobbms from the spindle of the spinmng-frame 
and replace them by empty ones. There are 144 spmdles on 
one frame, 72 on each side. As a ‘half-timer’, Joseph Wnght 
worked one week from 6 a.m. till 12.30, with half an hour’s 
interval at 8 a.m. for breakfast, and the next week from i .15 p.m. 
till 5.30 p.m. Saltaire Mill was two miles from his home, and 
the week he was working in the mornings he had to get up at 
5 a.m. to be at his post punctually at 6 a.m. He says; ‘I can 
remember now how my legs used to ache on a Monday 
morning, when I started work agam after some rest on Sunday, 
but they got right again in the course of the week. I went 
through many hardships as a lad, but I didn’t feel they were 
hardships at the time, I always felt I was getting on.’ He never 
dawdled away time ; what might have been an idle moment to 
other boys he made an opportunity for additional earnings. In 
this way he got a few extra halfpence for sweepmg up round the 
spinning-frames. Each girl working as a ‘spinner’ was expected 
to sweep up the floor roimd her own frame during her dinner 
hour, or her breakfast half-hour, and many such girls were only 
too glad to give a halfpenny to a wilhng boy to do the job for 
them, whilst they had a few nunutes free for a chatter amongst 
themselves. Even in childhood Joseph Wnght formed the 
habit of employing his time either in earning or learning some- 
thing; later on, it was mostly both at once. He says: ‘People 



30 YORKSHIRE 

will hardly believe all the different sorts of things I used to do 
to make an honest penny, and I always gave it to my mother. I 
used to gather horse-muck, and sell it to Jerry Stead of Wood- 
end, a good gardener. He used to pay me a penny a bucketful. 
Then there was Jonathan Pitts, who had a garden across the 
road from our house. In the sprmg and early summer I used to 
sell mint, parsley, young onions, and lettuce for him of a 
Friday evemng and Saturday afternoon, and I often earned 
quite sixpence a time.’ These thmgs were sold for makmg the 
famous Yorkshire salads Joseph Wnght always maintained 
that nobody outside Yorkshire can make a proper salad. 

The room in which he worked at Saltaire was situated in the 
‘Old End’ of the mill, room No 13. It was called ‘t’slave ’oil’ 
[= hole] in those days, ‘because the people in that department 
were very hard worked — scarcely a minute’s rest — ^but it 
should be mentioned that they got sixpence a week more than 
other people’. He took his own breakfast and dinner with him 
to the mill, but others, more opulent than he, bought food on 
the premises. ‘Saltaire Mills’, he tells, ‘did all they could for 
their work-people, bemg much ahead of other nulls at that 
date in providing facilities. There was a common dimng-room 
where you had a good dinner for about threepence — ^beefsteak 
pie, or stew, &c. Others could have what they brought with 
them heated free of charge. I always had my food warmed. 
There were large ovens for the purpose, numbered accordmg 
to the room m which you worked. You could buy a pmt of 
hot tea or coffee for a halfpenny. Men brought it round in a 
large can, and you provided your own “pmt-pot”, an earthen- 
ware mug, blue willow-pattern, or with a picture of the Pnnce 
of Wales on it. Even at home people had their tea m these pint 
or half-pint mugs, and only on formal occasipns had teacups 
and saucers. We had them only on Sundays, when we drank 
tea, other days we drank only milk and hot water.’ 

When not at work, the ‘half-timer’ went to a special school 
for the half-day, provided by Sir Titus Salt. T his was the only 
school Joseph Wnght ever attended, so that it is a fact that 



PLATE Hi 





SALTAIRE MILL 

J. W. has initialled the room where he worked 



EARLY BOYHOOD 


31 

never m his hfe did he have a full day’s schoohng. He says he 
learned very little there, except in anthmetic. Mr George 
Morrell, afterwards for nearly forty years head master at the 
Shipley School Board’s Central Schools, began his teaching 
career at the Saltaire Mill School m i860, where he had some 
two hundred to three hundred pupils He was Joseph Wnght’s 
first schoolmaster. He at once took kindly to his new scholar, 
an^ the latter still cherishes a deep feehng of gratitude and 
regard towards him, and is wont to relate with affectionate 
pnde that once, when he was a ‘half-timer’, Mr. George 
MorrelU gave him a pair of trousers As a rule a boy remamed 
a ‘half-timer’ till the age of thirteen, but Joseph Wnght had 
left the school and was doing full-time work long before he 
had actually attamed that age. He says : ^ ‘When I left school, 
I knew very httle more than when I first went. I knew the 
alphabet, and had a smattenng of elementary arithmetic, and I 
could recite, parrot-hke, vanous Scnptural passages, and a few 
highly moral bits of verse ; that was almost precisely the extent 
of my educational equipment after three or four years of 
schooling Reading and writing, for me, were as remote as 
any of the sciences.’ Remote, too, were much of the vocabulary, 
and the entire sound-system of standard Enghsh as a spoken 
language. For very many years yet he spoke nothing but the 
purest Bradford dialect 

One day, whilst he was still working at Saltaire, stands out 
very clearly in his recollections, it is, indeed, one of his favourite 
remimscences when talking of old times. It must have been in 
about the year 1864. The mill gave a holiday to all the work- 
people, and sent them for a day-tnp to Scarborough. Each man 
and woman was given half-a-crown, and to the boys and girls 
a shillmg each, with railway tickets all roimd. Joseph Wright 
gave his mother sixpence, and started off with the other six- 
pence in his pocket. He says: ‘My mother made me a raisin 
pasty to take with me for my dinner. I had eaten it all before I 

^ He died January 29, 1930, aged 90 

2 Vide John 0* London’s Weekly, May 15, 1926 



32 YORKSHIRE 

got to Leeds, so I had nothing else for the rest of the day. I 
remember going up some steps on the shore at Scarborough, 
at the top of which was a man selling ginger-beer, &c., I asked 
him, “Hah d’ye sell yer pop?” He said, “Tuppence a bottle.” 
I said, “Ah can get it at Wmdhill for a penny, and Ah’m nooan 
bahn [ = not gomg] to pay ye tuppence.” So I came home with 
my sixpence still in my pocket, and I spent a halfpenny of it 
when I got to Windhill, on treacle-drink at Dicky Winnell’s.’ 
Treacle-drink, it may be explamed, is well known in the north. 
It IS made with boiling water poured on treacle with cream of 
tartar added. 

Some time in 1868 Joseph Wright left the Saltaire Mill 
and went to work at Stephen Wildman’s Mill, known as 
Baildon Bridge Mill, where the river Aire separates Shipley 
from Baildon. Stephen Wildman later removed his business 
to a new imll which he built at Bingley, and Joseph Wnght 
went there too, along with other of the work-people who had 
been employed in the former null. To begm with, he was here, 
as at Saltaire, employed as a ‘doffer’, and by now he was earning 
nine shillings a week. His mother, however, always with an 
eye to his future, was again determined not to let him remain 
too long in a blind-alley job, and he himself was no less 
ambitious to learn and to rise. It was decided that he should 
become apprenticed to wool-sorting. This meant, at the start, 
a reduction of two shilhngs a week in his wages, a serious drop 
in the weekly income of the family, but his mother made up for 
It by doing extra washing and charing, and ‘Ahr Jooo’ himself 
took on more domestic work at home after mill hours. In his 
own words: T did all the cleaning on Saturday afternoon, not 
because I was obliged to do it, I did it automatically. When my 
mother was out channg she did not come hqmp till six or seven 
o’clock, sometimes much later than that, but she never came 
back to a dirty house. Once she was ill with typhoid fever, and 
I nursed her all through it, by myself. I always paid my wages 
over to my mother, and on Saturday mghts I went with her to 
Shipley to do her shopping, and buy our bit of meat for Sunday.’ 



PLATE IV 



EARLIEST PHOTOGRAPH OF JOSEPH WRIGHT 
‘Taken when I was a young man of twelve ’ 



EARLY BOYHOOD 33 

In January 1912 Joseph Wnght received a letter from the 
Treasurer of the ‘Rosse Street Brotherhood Veterans’, Shipley, 
enclosmg a circular and a photograph of the ‘Old Veterans’, 
and askmg for a subscnption to the funds of the Association. 
At the end of the oflScial letter, signed R. Brooks,^ is added m 
pencil a PS. as follows ; ‘I have not forgotten the time when you 
came prentice under me at Baildon Bridge Mills and how I 
advised you to get all the Learning you could and to-day I am 
proud that I have been associated with one of the greatest 
Professors of the day and may you be long spared to carry on 
your good work. 

‘As for me I am working for old men who cannot help them- 
selves to make their last days as comfortable as possible. I am 
an old man and with a very unsteady hand. 82 next. 

Dick.’ 

A wool-sorter always wore a large coarse pinafore or overall 
made with sleeves, locally termed a ‘brat’, and now that ‘Ahr 
Joos’ was ’prenticed, he must have a ‘brat’ to wear, and his 
mother was troubled to know how such was to be provided. 
A friend in need helped them out of the difficulty. Joseph 
Wnght records : ‘My mother worked for a Mrs. Aspinall, whose 
husband was a wool-sorter, and she gave my mother one of her 
husband’s “brats”. I remember George Aspinall perfectly 
well, a very big and heavy man. It was a small-check “brat”, 
miles too big for me, for I was always thm as a lad.’ Mrs. 
Wnght did the best she could, by taking in the sleeves and 
making a broader hem at the bottom, and finally the young 
apprentice set out upon his new employ weanng the regulation 
msignia of the profession. He can still, as a retired University 
Professor, recoimt the techmcal details of wool-sorting. This 

^ Richard Brooks ^ed on January i, 1922, aged ninety-one He is not the 
same man referred to m J • W/s own reminiscences as Alfred Brooks, who helped 
him m learning to write (vide p 37) Richard Brooks worked on as a wool- 
sorter till age forced him to retire When m 1931 I sent his daughter a copy of 
the portrait of Joseph Wnght, she said in her letter of thanks: ‘I am gomg to 
put It m a frame, and hang it up in the same room where my Father is, and 
then I shall have two good men to look at ’ Few tributes to Joseph Wright’s 
memory pleased me so much as these simple words, and the deed they record. 



34 YORKSHIRE 

is what he has told me ; The wool came to the mill m huge bags, 
each containing four to five hundredweight of fleeces just as 
they were shorn from the sheep The sorter’s business was to 
remove the thorns, straws, and little bits of wood entangled in 
the wool, and to separate it according to quality. The bits of 
straw, &c., were known as‘moits’,the same word as the Bibhcal 
‘mote’ which we behold and want to pull out of a brother’s eye. 
‘Molting’ required great care and accuracy, but the real skill 
came in the sorting process. There would be at least four or 
five different quahties of wool in the fleece of a single sheep. In 
his own words : ‘The great thing, first of all, is to be quite sure 
you have got out all the thorns and bits of straw — the wool 
roimd the neck is the worst part — ^then you must learn to sort 
the wool automatically, you must know by the feel of it in the 
hand, whether it is fourth or fifth quality. A man who has to 
think about it, never will become a proper wool-sorter. Many 
have to give it up, because they cannot learn to do it auto- 
matically. The best wool grows on the sheep’s forelegs, and it 
gets coarser towards the hind-quarters. This coarsest wool is 
called “britch”, the lowest quahty of all. The next is the second, 
and so on to the sixth, and highest quahty The fleeces, whether, 
for example, from Yorkshire, Leicestershire, or Lmcolnshire 
sheep, are already separate, but every wool-sorter knows at 
once the difference between the various breeds of sheep. The 
“staple” [i.e. the length of a lock of wool from the skin to the 
tip] of Lincolnshire wool is much longer than that of any other 
county in England, especially that of a “hog” [i.e. a sheep 
about a year old, before it has been shorn]. It might be twelve 
to fourteen inches long. The fleece, too, is heavier, often weigh- 
ing 14 lb. Leicester wool is very good, but you rarely found a 
fleece weighing as much as 14 lb. The wool-sorter was paid by 
piece-work, so much per “pack”. A “pack’’ of wool is 240 lb. 
For Lincolnshire wool you were paid four shillings and six- 
pence per “pack”, but for hghter wool, such as Berkshire wool, 
where more fleeces went to the “pack”, you were paid at a 
higher rate. For Yorkshire wool you got about five shillings. 



EARLY BOYHOOD 


35 

and for superior Leicestershire wool, six shillings per “pack” 
Each wool-sorter worked at a large table, and had beside bim a 
certain number of “skeps” [= baskets] into which he put the 
sorted wool, and then it went on to the wash-house. You were 
standmg on your feet the whole day long. The hours were 
6 a.m. to 5 30 p m in summer, but rather shorter hours in 
winter, as you cannot sort wool by gas-hght ’ Normally an 
apprentice had seven shilhngs a week for his first year, rising 
yearly one shilhng a week up to ten shillings in his fourth year, 
but Joseph Wnght proved so skilful and rehable that, withm 
two years, his master, Stephen Wildman, put him on to piece- 
work, so that before he reached the age of fifteen he was a full- 
fledged wool-sorter, earnmg between twenty and thirty shillmgs 
a week. He says it was the best-paid job in the mill. He never 
lost the specialist’s knowledge he gamed so long ago, and when 
we attended the annual Agricultural Show at Settle in Ribbles- 
dale It was the sheep-pens which attracted him first, and he 
scanned the exhibits with the eye of the trained expert in raw 
wool. 

For some time past the Wright family income had amounted 
to more than enough for the barest necessities of life, and ‘ Ahr 
Jooo’ was maturmg plans for providmg his mother with a more 
comfortable and spacious home than her present one-roomed 
dwelhng. He had saved every penny he could, with this end 
in view, and now, when he was still only a lad of fourteen, he 
earned his project into effect. He tells his own story of it thus : 
‘Soon after I was put on to piece-work, we left the Spite and 
Mahce House, and went to live at No. 6 Wellington Street, 
Woodend, Windhill, and I devoted my attention to furmshing 
the house. It had a parlour, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a 
cellar. The rent was two and nmepence a week, water and 
rates free. We were select people when we went to hve in 
Welhngton Street. I distinctly remember when I bought my 
mother a rockmg-chair. For the parlour suite I gave tengmneas. 
I also bought a chest of drawers, and a “seeming-glass”, a big 
one, with a marble slab at the bottom. I bought some furniture 



YORKSHIRE 


36 

every month. I was paid a minimum wage every week of nine 
shillings for three successive weeks, and in the fourth week 
there was a budgetmg up for the month of the piece-work, and 
I got a good deal more. I often used to have as much as three 
pounds. My Ont [ = Aimt] Betty gave us four pictures for our 
new home, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, painted on glass. 
I expect they are very valuable now.’ [Aunt Betty was his 
father’s eldest sister, then living at Puddmg Hall Farm ] 

He continued to work at Stephen Wil^an’s as a wool- 
sorter till he left the mill altogether in 1876, but sometimes for 
a few weeks when Stephen Wildman’s was slack, he would get 
temporary work in Bradford. His mother could now afford to 
do less charing, though she contmued to do some outside 
work, besides being busy early and late at home. Joseph 
Wnght says : ‘My mother always got up at 5 a.m. and made us 
tea before we went to work.’ ' 

IV EDUCATION 

The record of this important step in the family history, when 
Joseph Wnght furmshed a house for his mother, and they were 
established as ‘select people’ in Wellmgton Street, brings us on 
to the great tunung-pomt in his own life, the time when he 
set himself to learn to read. With his powerful intellect, his 
capacity for hard work, and his fund of practical common sense, 
he had all the endowments which go to the making of an 
mdustrial magnate — ^many such started, as he did, from the 
very bottom of the ladder. All his surroundings, too, belonged 
to the world of industry and commerce ; the mill and all that 
therein is had formed the physical and mental atmosphere of 
his existence hitherto. He could have become an eminently 
successful manufacturer if he had been content to remain in 
the business world. The idea which turned his thoughts and 
aspirations in another direction, and altered the whole trend 
' of his career, came in 1870. Durmg the Franco-Prussian War 
he used to listen to the men who worked with him reading aloud 
from newspapers in their dinner-hour vivid accounts of battles 






J. W., aged 19, standing on the right 


GROUP OF WOOLSORTERS 




EDUCATION 37 

and sieges, and discussing with one another the things they 
read. He was intensely interested. Envy and longing now 
stirred in the mind of the young Joseph Wright, Why should 
he be debarred from getting all this first-hand ? He determmed 
to acquire the art of readmg, and so satisfy this newly awakened 
craving for knowledge,^ 

He always said that it was owing to his plebeian ancestry 
that he brought -with him to the field of science and letters that 
prodigious vitahty of brain which enabled him to accomphsh 
the intellectual feats which marked his progress from this time 
onwards. His forebears had never spent their brain-power in 
the pursiut of book-learning, Joseph Wright could draw on 
unlimited capital behind him. He began by teaching himself 
reading and writing. This he did with the aid of two books : 
the Bible and Bimyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. T had’, he says, ‘a 
strange pronunciation of the uncommon words, some of which 
stuck to me for years’. T used’, he says, ‘to practise writmg in 
the dinner-hour. A man called Alfred Brooks — a well-educated 
man, a good deal older than I was, also a wool-sorter — ^used to 
take a great interest in my writing He pressed me very hard 
to learn to write with my right hand. He afterwards became a 
clerk to the Bradford Corporation.’ Joseph Wnght took this 
good friend’s advice, and he always wrote his books and letters 
with the right hand, but m givmg a lecture, or teaching a class, 
he often used his left hand for writmg on the black-board, if 
the position of the board chanced to make it more convenient 
so to do. Mr. .ffithelbert Bmns, writing in The News, Hobart, 
of June 13, 1925, says: ‘I have heard him lecture, and with a 
piece of chalk have seen him draw illustrative diagrams at the 
same tune with each hand, and talk while he was domg it, 
vnthout any parade or thought that it was anything very unusual.’ 
Both Joseph Wnght’s parents and his three brothers were all 
left-handed, and our little son inherited the same characteristic. 

It IS a curioxxs fact that though it was through the medium of a newspaper 
that the inspiration came which started him forth on the road to Leammg, yet 
he never bought or read newspapers Not till after he was forty years old did 
he have a daily paper m his home 



YORKSHIRE 


38 

Not contented with his self-imposed tasks, he now attended 
a night-school held by James Needham. To this he went two 
or three nights a week for the sum of sixpence a week. James 
Needham was a Wesleyan day-school master, who had 
classes for working lads in the evemngs, after mill-hours. 
‘The teaching’, he says, ‘was very elementary, just the three 
Rs. I did not attend the classes for long, but I remained for 
years great friends with James Needham.’ About this time 
Joseph Wright happened to get hold of a copy of the first 
number of a new edition of Cassell’s Popular Educator,'^ which 
was being published in fortmghtly parts at sevenpence a part. 
He bought the parts as they appeared, and studied them with 
great assiduity. He says: ‘the completed book remained my 
constant compamon for years. I learned an enormous lot from 
It.’ Every minute of the day that he could now spare he spent 
on his studies. He worked at his books during his dinner-hour 
and sat up late into the mght. The great day for study was 
Simday when, except for regular attendance at Chapel and 
Simday School, he spent the whole day at his books. 

His thirst for languages was born and took shape; he began 
to learn French. For this he went to a mght-school held by 
John Murgatroyd. The latter previously had a private school 
in Idle, known as the Round Steps School, but he had given 
this up and come to live at his old home in Windhill Joseph 
Wnght says : ‘He held his school m a room belongmg to the 
Local Board, and there I went to him for French, with others, 
in the evenings. He had quite a number of day-scholars besides. 
He was a beautiful writer with the pen, and used to teach boys 
at Chnstmas-time to write illuminated cards to give to their 

^ Through the kindness of the Business Director of Cassell’s, Ltd , Mr 
H Aubrey Guitry, I have received the following extract concerning this admir- 
able book ‘On April 3, 1 852, was issued the first weekly number of the “Popu- 
lar Educator”, which made John Cassell’s name known throughout the country 
He realized acutely how he himself had been handicapped by the want of a good 
general education, of the difficulty of obtaimng the material necessary for a 
regular course of home study, and it was natural that the idea of filling the gap 
should have occurred to him thus early m his career Edition after edition of 
this work has followed ’ 



EDUCATION 


39 

parents. He was a lovable man, but like many Yorkshiremen, 
you might know him for years and at the end know as much 
about him himself as you did at the beginmng. He was very 
reserved — ^talked always about books. He was hke a Scotch 
donume.’ 

John Murgatroyd taught German besides French, so a httle 
later, m addition to French, Joseph Wright began German at 
this same night-school. He got some help thus, but the main 
bulk of his knowledge he acquired for himself by dmt of sheer 
hard work and perseverance. He could do with very httle sleep, 
and even after a long day at the mill he could work qiute 
easily through most of the night without feeling tired. He 
would frequently sit up till 2 a.m and then, after about three 
hours’ sleep, get up again in time to be at the mill at 6 a.m. He 
had, moreover, an amazing power of concentration, which has 
held good all his life. Outside noise did not affect him when 
his mind was bent on his books. Our Mary could play in his 
study, and he would say : ‘You can talk as much as you like, it 
won’t disturb me.’ The only stipulation he would make on 
these occasions was that the dog should not be encouraged to 
bark, he did draw the hne at a dog barkmg in the room. 
Doubtless this faculty for turning a deaf ear to noise was in 
part the result of living so long maspmning-room. He has often 
told me that you get so accustomed to the sound of the coimt- 
less machines all going at once, that you can converse with your 
neighbour in your ordinary voice without the slightest diffi- 
culty in heanng or being heard. Another important element 
which went to the making of his rapid progress m self-education 
was the fact that he never wasted time and never let slip any 
opportunity which he might use to fruitful advantage. By 
nature and trainmg, from his very childhood, as we have 
already noted, he Had a strict sense of the value of time. When 
I said to him: ‘I can’t think how you managed to learn all that 
when you were working at the null from six in the mommg till 
six at night,’ he replied: ‘Oh, it wasn’t so bad as that! I 
stopped at half-past five.’ 



40 


YORKSHIRE 


For learning French he used Contanseau’s French Grammar, 
published by Longmans, and for German he had Otto’s 
German Grammar. Latin he started learmng entirely alone 
with the aid of Cassell’s Latin Grammar, He was now workmg 
hard at three languages together, but he still felt more drawn 
to mathematical rather than to hnguistic studies, so he cast 
about for means of pursmng higher mathematics. Whilst still 
attendmg John Murgatroyd’s night-school, he began going 
twice a week to the Mechanics Institute at Bradford for classes 
in Arithmetic, Euclid, and Algebra. To do this, meant a 
three-mile walk each way at night. Later, he took lessons in 
shorthand at this Institute, thinking he might like to become a 
newspaper-reporter He used to practise his shorthand at 
home by taking down the sermons in Chapel regularly every 
Sunday. The earliest certificate he gained is one for shorthand, 
signed by Yzak Pitman' T hereby certify that Mr. Joseph 
Wright has a thorough knowledge of my system of Phono- 
graphy or Phonetic Shorthand, is a qualified Teacher of the 
Art, and a Member of the Phonetic Society. Class I ... 32 April 
1875,’ that IS, when he was mneteen and a half. But to return 
to earher days. 

About the age of eighteen, in the midst of all his mamfold 
intellectual tasks, and whilst still working at the mill as a wool- 
sorter, Joseph Wright conceived the idea of holding a mght- 
school of his own. He says he did it in order to earn more 
money wherewith to buy books. This is, of course, just the 
kind of reason he himself would give, but any one who has had 
the privilege of sitting under him as a pupil will be mclined 
to see in this new venture the dawmng of his great gift for 
teaching, which now sought expression It is clear from letters 
I have received from one of his early scholars^ that even then, 
when there was httle or no difference in age between teacher 
and taught, and none m social position, yet his pupils con- 
sciously recogmzed in him a master mind and gladly accepted 
his leadership. The subjects he took at the outset were just 
the three Rs, and the classes were held in one of the two small 



EDUCATION 41 

bedrooms m his mother’s cottage in Wellington Street. 
Sometimes as many as a dozen lads assembled there of an 
evening. Some stood, some sat on the bed, and the rest sat on 
the floor, for there was only one chair in the room, and that was 
appropriated to the use of the teacher. The fees were limited 
to twopence a week per head, so that, obviously, the school 
was not primarily a money-making concern* It must have 
been in about the year 1873, after he had given up gomg to 
John Murgatroyd’s mght-school, that he began his elementary 
classes for junior boys, and then m about 1874 he added a more 
advanced class for older boys. Writing of this now, it all 
seemed to belong to a buried past, this picture more than half 
a century old, of a gathenng of eager Yorkshire lads, and the 
young enthusiast burstmg with joy over his own newly-won 
treasures of knowledge, teachmg them in a tiny and bare 
attic in an obscure village street. And then, suddenly and 
unexpectedly, came a letter from the other side of the globe, 
bridgmg the gap of years by tellmg of memories ahve and 
cherished still, and of present well-being traced in terms of 
love and gratitude to the influence of those very early days 
when Joseph Wnght first took up teaching. I give the letter in 
full, and just as it stands : 


Liverpool, N. S. Wales. Australia. 

15/10/28. 

Dear Doctor, 

A friend of mine in Bradford, knowing that I was for some 
time a pupil of yours in WindhiU over half a century ago, sent 
me a Bradford Telegraph and Argus of 22nd June last in which 
there is a Photo of your good Self and a very eulogistic account 
of the eminence you have attained in the world of learning; 
and the munificenf assistance you have so generously been able 
to give an mstitution which I am sure must be dear to you, and 
a cause you have ever had so much at heart. 

You may probeble remember me — ^Tom Woodward with 
Harry Close young wool-sorters from Saltaire, together with 

G 



42 YORKSHIRE 

Others coming to your home in Windhill for instruction to 
supliment the meager education we had obtained at the Mill 
Schools. 

Dear Joe — ^excuse me addressmg you by the dear old name so 
fimihar to us over 50 years ago, when you was to us a real 
paragon apart from the educational point of view. The im- 
pressions I gained from you, your good Mother, and humble 
home, has ever made you my life’s hero ; and the pure gold that 
underlaid it all, so impressed me that I have always been 
thankful of the pnvihge I had of knowing you all in those 
strenous times. It is needless to recount the many incidents 
that are indelible imprinted on my memory of those bye-gone 
days. 

I came to this coimtry just over 50 years ago, and have heard of 
you from time to time, each time with something hke a thrill! 

My children and grandchildren number 30, and thanks to 
your help, I have gathered as much as will keep me with a 
crust for the rest of my days. I am now 73 in good health, 
qmet active and happy with my Saltaire wife. 

I will not weary you with a long letter; but trust it may be 
of some intrest to you to know that time and distance has not 
eflEaced my admiration and esteem for you. 

With every good wish 
Yours very smcerly 
Tom Woodward. 

I wrote at once to beg the writer to delve still further mto 
his personal recollections, and send me more such reminis- 
cences. This is what I received in response to my appeal — (I 
quote the letter verbatim) : 

Liverpool. N. S. Wales. AiutraUa. 

yrdjan. 1929. 

Dear Dr. and Mrs. Wright, 

On New Year’s eve I received Mrs. Wright’s very nice letter 
and the splendid photograph of the fine painting which is to 
hang in that renowned hall of learning at Oxford. 



EDUCATION 43 

I have no words sufficent to thank you Mrs. Wnght and my 
dear old fnend Dr. Wnght for the very warm appreciation of 
my rememberance of those long-ago-days at Wmdhill To 
know that my long defered letter gave you pleasure is a very 
great joy to me. 

I sincerly regret to hear that the very hard work and the 
midnight oil that has been so unreservedly burnt in the intrest 
of the Nation and the World is now telhng its tale so sadly on 
the once Spnghtly and Sturdy figure I so well remember. 

I am glad to say the photograph reached me in perfect order, 
and I am taking immediate steps to have it fittingly framed to 
hang in my humble home ; as I am sure that with this, and the 
life story of Dr. Joseph Wright told to my children’s children 
will be some incentive for them to make good; as I am a firm 
believer in ‘The deeds of good men live after them’. 

The loss of your dear children must have been a cruel blow 
to you; as I know something of what this means to Mother and 
a father’s heart. 

In compliance with the wishes of Mrs Wnght I will en- 
deavour to give a few of my impressions and recollections of 
that interesting time, when worki work' and More Work was 
the order of a very long day for our beloved teacher 

While some of the events of 1873-4 vividly fixed on my 
memory others are not so clear as I would hke : however, it was 
about the year 1874 that I had the good fortime of becommg 
intimately acquamted with ‘Joe’ — ^Please allow me to use the 
dear old Name? — We were both Woolsorters at different firms 
I think Joe was apprentice at Denbys in Hall lane Shipley 
[this is a mistake, he was at Wildman’s]; while I was at 
Saltaire* And as there was a certain amount of fraternity 
existing in some of the trades of the district, I had often heard 
of the ploddmg industrious Joe Wright ; of his ability to speak 
several languages ; and how he would work at his sortmg table 
"With his algebra and other books proped open against the 
back of his table in front of him • and the stupendous Matha- 
matical Problems he would work out such as would baffel the 



44 YORKSHIRE 

Smartest Scholars of the district; and all this by a young man 
who had never been a day to School m his hfe and practically 
self taught. ... It was simultanious with his starting work as 
a half-timer that he started on his marvelous career of learning. 
I can picture Joe as a distinguished looking boy at that time as 
he would be broad set and his very strong hair grew rather low 
on his forehead: however I have this from Joe’s own lips^: — 
The fireman at the mill took a fancy to Joe and used to talk to 
him he would ask simple questions such as : How many half- 
pennys were there m a penny. Then how many farthings were 
in a penny and by this process of questioning he got Joe to tell 
how many farthings in a pound. When Joe could do this he 
thought It wonderful and it so fired his immagmation that he 
never left the track that was destined to bring him so con- 
spicuously before the world. It was about 1874 that my old 
fnend Harry Close who had been a halftime lad with me at the 
Mill and was now a woolsorter told me some young men of our 
own age had approached Joe with the object of forming a class 
of us of a more studious turn of mind : when our Modest Master 
sujested a kind of mutual improvement-class where he would 
be leader rather than teacher. Anyhow the class was formed 
and we met at the home of the Wrights in Windhill. I think 
the hour of Meeting was about 8.30 p.m. so as to give him time 
to fimsh with his other classes which he had been conducting 
for years in addition to his personal studies. 

We were the last on hand for the mght and I think the time 
was one hour a night for two mghts per week and the fee was 
sixpence per week. The subjects taken up were various in- 
cluding English, Arethmatic, book-keeping, phonecic [wV], 
Shorthand, and French. — I caimot say that any of us greatly 
distmguished ourselves; but I am qmet sui^e it was a very 
useful addition to our limited attainments at the halftime 
School. 

Joe was always kind and sympathecic yet strict in the con- 
ducting of his Classes and when the work was over he would 
relax and would talk with us for a while as this was just a ‘lul’ 



EDUCATION 45 

in his dayswork. These talks were mostly of an educational 
character with a certain amount of humour interspersed. It 
was in this talk time he told of the Fireman’s questions ; how 
he was teaching a class of juniors to read by a Novel system of 
phonic characters and he declared it a great success. He would 
show us how easy it was to nm his three fingers down three 
coljimns of £sd simultaneously and give the correct answer in 
the total line — may here remark he never sharpened a Slate 
pencil as it was waste : It was at one of these talks that Joe told 
us how his Mother had left an Institution with her three small 
boys Joe Tom and Duff [Dufton was the baby, there was also 
Jim, the eldest boy] in the hope of getting channg or washmg in 
the locality where she was known. After a pathetic journey 
they arnved in Wmdhill where poverty was no bar to this good 
woman sending her boy Joe to the Sunday School and part of 
his Sunday suit was a smock made out of a flour or sugar bag 
with part of the brand showing, on this accoimt Joe was given 
plenty of room. And in later years some of these boys came to 
his night classes and he never took their sixpence fee without 
remembenng the Sunday school days. [This tale is heroic 
legend, rather than history.] 

There is another little story I remember Joe telhng us; but 
whether it was against himself I forget. It was after pounng 
over a Mathematical problem and nearly confessmg to be beat. 
It was found that a small hair had been rubbed of the eyebrow 
and dropped along an o and made it into 9. 

Sometimes he would take us into his little room and show us 
his wealth of books and other things of an educational character 
such as maps etc. etc. Joe had a very fine collection of books. 
And had a very keen eye m the Second hand book shops for 
books of value and would even buy bankrupt accoimt books 
perhaps a ledger with only a few pages used this gave him 
plenty of good cheap wnting paper. [When he read this in the 
letter, Joseph Wnght’s comment was : ‘That ’s perfectly true. I 
remember carrying one home, a very heavy one, which I bought 
in Bradford in the market, in September 1873, when the Town 



46 YORKSHIRE 

Hall was opened.’] At other times he would come for a short 
walk with us. On one particular bnght summer’s night we 
took a strole along the Idle road. — ^There was a comet visable 
that night, and this lead Joe into a great lecture on Astronomy — 
Along the Idle road there is an old roman road leads off to the 
left; down this road we went till a httle way down we came to 
an old quaker’s burrying ground [it was known as ‘ Old Brown’s’] 
we went up some steps into it and took seats on a flat table 
gravestone; there Joe continued his oration on Astronomy 
delayting on the Stars, The Planets, Constelation, Sun, Moon, 
and the immencity of space etc. and fimshed up by reciteing 
us that beautiful hymn. — 

The spacious firmament on high 

With all the blue ethenal sky 

And spangled heavens a shimng flame [iic] 

Their great origmal proclaim 

This we were told was the finest piece of poetry in the English 
language. 

Harry Close sung us one or two songs, ‘The Yellow White 
and Brown’ ‘The flag of old England’ etc. — ^Randell a young 
Welsh man sang ‘Kitty Wells’ 

Her name it was Kitty so neat and so smart 

She comes from North Wales and she plays the Welsh Harp. 

Then our respected leader suggested a short prayer, which 
was offered up in all solemmty then we retraced our steps home 
happy. 

I would like here to say a few words about that good woman 
Mrs. Wnght and her home. I think she was made of the stuff 
true Bntons are made of and worthy of her great Son, as her 
good son was worthy of her. There is no doubt it was her high 
ideals, her love for her Boys, and her har^ toil that made it 
possible for her Son to rise to such eminence out of such 
environs. The home was of the humblest discription in a 
street where the tenements are built like barracks with no 
backyard and the conveniences at the end of the street ; and the 








WELLINGTON STREET, WINDHILL 
No. 6 is the third house in the row on the right 






EDUCATION 


47 

clothes lines were strung across from house to house — forget 
the Name; — ^but it was near the top end, or Idle end of 
Wmdhill and about the third in the row. The tenements con- 
sisted of 4 rooms ; the living room about 12 ft square with a 
narrow room as long, but only half the width, this was sitting 
room hbrary, and I think sleeping room. Then two upper 
rooms correspondmg with the lower rooms the larger of these 
two was used as a school room and the smaller one as a sleeping 
room. [Both were bedrooms.] The School room was reached 
by a narrow spiral stairsway in the far left hand comer of the 
hving room and to reach tius stair, even at the hour our class 
met, we often had to stride over a wash tub and a basket or two 
of clothes to reach it ; with always a cheery word from Mrs. 
Wright as we passed. 

Such loyalty in effort it has ever been good to think of. I 
understand Tom Wnght afterwards became hbrarian of the 
Camagie hbrary at Windhill [this is a mistake — ^it was 
Dufton] and from whom I had a kmdly message sent per a 
niece of mme a few years ago. 

I do not intend posting this letter for a day or two till I can 
tell you of my highly prized treasure being duly installed in 
my home. 

I have now a rather sad story to add; and that is the death on 
the 4th mst. of my very old fnend and school mate Harry Close 
who followed me to New South Wales 49 years ago — ^in his 
74th year. The Doctor may remember him? I think we were 
the only two from Saltaire attending the Wmdhill Night Class 
at that time. Harry and I often spoke of our early days in the old 
town when we met, and our Wmdhill Mentor had always a 
warm place in our hearts and memory. I should certainly have 
let Harry know of my good fortune m hearing from you; but 
now death has robted me of that pleasure. I paid my last 
respects at his grave on the 5th mst. 

I am now pleased to say, I deem it a great honour to have the 
photo of my old friend Dr. Wnght m a substanaal oak frame 
adommg my home. I thank you most sincerly and trust your 



48 YORKSHIRE 

declining years may bnng you all the happiness of work well 
done. 

Yours Faithfully 

Tom Woodward.* 

Another unexpected letter came from Canada, and is worth 
quoting because it records the story of the night-school chenshed 
by the second generation, the writer bemg the son of one of 
the original scholars : 

Vancouver. British Columbia. Canada. 

July I'jth 1928. 

Dear Dr. Wright, 

For many years I have felt an inward urge to communicate 
with you and request some little form of remembrance, such as 
an autographed copy of one of your publications I am well 
aware such a request may seem somewhat impertinent on my 
part, but that I know you will forgive when I explain the 
circumstances. My father, Wilham Illmgworth, was a resident 
of Thackley and Idle. He passed away some 25 years ago when 
I was about 23 years of age. As a small boy he often used to 
tell me to watch the career of Joseph Wnght, who had never 
received a day’s full schoohng in his life. From information 
imparted to me by Dad, I am pretty sure he used to attend a 
class you held in a bedroom at your home, I believe in Windhill. 
I well remember the first day I went out to work as a half-timer 
at a spinmng factory in Scholes, near Cleckheaton ; Dad set me 
off with the remark ‘Joseph Wnght got a start that way’. I 
didn’t get very much schooling, until as a joumey-man 
cabmet-maker, I earned sufficient to attend evening classes 
in Bradford, Bnghouse, Cleckheaton, and at Liverpool 
University. Now I am Instructor of Manual Training in one 

* Tom Woodward wrote agam on Apnl 9, 1930, this time to me alone In 
his letter he said ‘The life of my dear old friend and teacher of over half a 
century ago came vividly to my mind, and the giant struggle being waged m 
most adverse circumstances in that humble cottage m Wmdhill to wm his way 
m the realm of learning, and ever ready to shed the light of his attainments to 
those around him. His kindly help and sterhng worth is still remembered ’ 



EDUCATION 49 

of the Public Schools here, am married, and have three 
children. Now you will understand why some little souvenir 
of Dr. Joseph Wnght would be appreciated in the home of 
William Ilhngworth’s son ^ 

With very best wishes, I am sincerely yours, 

Charles Illingworth. 

Amongst Joseph Wnght’s intellectual and social activities 
at this time must be mentioned his connexion with the Sunday 
School The Wrights belonged to a Pnmitive Methodist 
congregation m Windhill, a small but very earnest body. Their 
rehgion formed a very real part of their life, and their Chapel, 
as the outward and visible sign of it, was an object of genuine 
devotion. In those days there were no clubs for working lads, 
nor Women’s Institutes, there were no cheap concerts, and the 
cinema was yet unborn, any outside interest which was pro- 
vided for the null-worker, whether for his amusement or for 
his edification, was provided by the Chapel, organized by the 
prinapal members of the congregation, or by the Sunday 
School. Sometimes it was a ‘Penny Reading’, or a simple 
dramatic performance, or a social-religious gathenng such as 
that known as a ‘Love-feast’ Joseph Wnght, when about 
seventeen or eighteen, was much in request at ‘Penny Read- 
ings’, not only in Wmdhill, but in other villages in the neigh- 
bourhood. He used to read humorous or pathetic pieces 
wntten in the dialect, taken from Ben Preston’s Poems, John 
Hartley’s ‘Yorkshire Puddm”, or his ‘Yorkshire Ditties’. 
Sometimes the Sunday School boys would act httle plays with 
a moral to them, such as ‘Buy your own Chernes’, which seems 
to have been a dramatic work in support of temperance. The 
profits of these entertainments were given to the Chapel or 
Sunday School funds. Collections were made at the ‘Love- 
feasts’, but these assembhes were pnmanly rehgious, a means 
of cementmg the bond of fellowship among the members of 

^ A photographic reproduction of a portrait of Joseph Wnght was sent him 
in reply 


H 



so YORKSHIRE 

the community. The congregation joined in some simple, 
symbohc meal together, and then individual members would 
stand up and relate their religious experiences. Joseph 
Wright records his recollections of a ‘Love-feast’ thus: 
‘Biscuits were handed round, one to each person, and a large 
cup of water. In better-class Chapels it was a big two-handled 
tankard, but in poor Chapels like ours the cup was pot 
[ = earthenware] . You ate the biscuit, and took a drop of water, 
and after that people got up and spoke for two or three minutes 
each to the congregation That was all. I remember when 
Mary Shngsby, a very good old woman, got up and sang: 

I’m a pilgnm and a stranger, 

Dark and thorny is the road, 

Often m the midst of danger, 

But It leads to God 

I can hear her singing it now.’ 

Joseph Wnght was a regular attendant at the Sunday School 
from the time his mother went to hve in School Street, when 
he was about six years old, till he was about seventeen. One of 
his earliest memories was reawakened by chance in conversa- 
tion just recently, when some one was refernng to the pubhc 
rejoicing on the occasion of the marriage of Edward VII m 
March 1863 : ‘I remember that.’ ‘Why?’ said the visitor. ‘Be- 
cause we had oranges. I remember that orange as well as if it 
were yesterday I had it.’ The Sunday School gave a treat to 
all the children, and each one received an orange. Joseph 
Wnght was then only seven and a half years old, and to him an 
orange was an almost unknown luxury and, as it has proved, 
unforgettable. Another incident belonging to these very early 
Sunday School days is told me by Mrs Dufton Wright. She 
says: ‘I remember his mother telhng me once about havmg to 
wash Joe’s shirt and the others’ on Saturday mght after they 
had gone to bed, and she was so tired she fell asleep over the 
wash-tub and she slept so long while [= till] she could not get 
Joe’s shirt dry soon enough for School, and she put him one of 
her shifts on to go to School in . . . she did not like him to miss 



EDUCATION 


51 

School.’ A friend who went to see Mrs. Wnght in her later 
leisured years was told by her that there was one occasion when 
she thought she ought to have had her photograph taken, and 
that was once when she fell asleep with her hands in the tub in 
which she was washing her boys’ clothes 

The Sunday Class was held in the morning before the 
seryice and again in the afternoon. Joseph Wnght also 
regularly attended morning and evening service — everybody 
did’ is his comment on what reads to-day hke an incredible 
statement About the time when he started his own mght- 
school he began taking a class himself on Sundays, and he 
origmated the idea of forming a Library for the Windhill 
Sunday School scholars. He collected a little money for the 
purpose, and constituting himself librarian, he gave out the 
books on Sunday mornings at the conclusion of the class. He 
chose the books himself when he went to Bradford, where he 
was in the habit of frequenting the ‘newMarketHouse’ m order 
to buy books for his own use He says . T bought lots of books 
there, very cheap For the Sunday School, I used to go also 
to Thomas Brear, a Wesleyan : he let me have the books as 
cheap as he could.’ 

The Superintendent of the Sunday School then, and for 
many years afterwards, was Mr. John Hall, who had a draper’s 
shop near to the Wnghts when they were living in the ‘Spite and 
Malice House’. He also sold tea, of a blend invanably patron- 
ized by Mrs. Wnght. His son, Thomas Hall, still remembers 
taking Mrs. Wnght’s weekly order to her house every Saturday. 
Another son, Willie Hall, was organist at the WindhiU Chapel, 
and has now played at the Anmversary Service for fifty-six 
years. The following is a letter recently received from 
Mr. Thomas Hall in answer to some quenes of mme: 


‘ Studkolme', Park Street, Selby. 

Jtme IQ2Q. 

Dear Mrs. Wright, 

I well remember the Library which your husband was 
the means of forming, and I used to take books from it. It was 



52 YORKSHIRE 

a great boon and very much appreciated. My father’s age at 
that time would be about 50, and he was a most wonderful 
Superintendent. He exercised a very fine influence over both 
Scholars and Teachers, and I have never known a school since 
in which there was such good discipline. The singing used to 
be a means of grace, and I quite think your husband’s associa- 
tion and interest in the Sunday School had some influence in 
the moulding of his life, and I am quite sure that your hus- 
band’s life had a good influence on my own. To me it almost 
seems miraculous that a boy brought up in such a home as his 
was, should have become such a famous man. When I first 
knew the family they lived in a one-roomed house not far from 
my father’s shop, and I often used to go there. Later they lived 
in Wellmgton Street, and it was there that your husband’s 
mother used to tell me of her son’s wonderful achievements. 
One thing I was always dehghted with was that in the after 
years, your husband was never too big to visit and stay with 
his mother m the Wellington Street house. 

I remember your husband visiting the Sunday School on 
the occasion of an entertainment, and giving some items in the 
Yorkshire Dialect. One was a description of a Washing Day in 
one of the streets of Woodend. There was only one set of 
clothes posts to serve a or 3 families, and to get over this 
difiiculty they had separate washing days. Trouble arose when 
one of the women decided to wash her clothes on a day that was 
not her own, there was what they call a ‘Fratch’ and a ‘Feight’ 
when sweeping brushes with long handles were brought into 
use. 

Another occasion I remember was the Speech Day of the 
Saltaire Institute when your husband gave the Presidential 
Address. He explained that the origm of people in vanous 
parts of England and Wales could be traced from the different 
dialects spoken. At the close the Doctor with great pride 
introduced his mother to some of the big folks present. Sir 
James Roberts, Bart., took the chair, and he told a story of his 
own early days, how that as a boy he had walked along with 



EDUCATION 53 

another boy from Oxenhope to see the wonderful town of 
Saltaire, with its 4 stone hons, how they had only one penny 
between them, and that when the time came to commence the 
return journey one boy went into a Confectioner’s shop to buy 
a penny teacake, while the other boy looked through the 
window. The shop woman seeing this boy thought a penny 
cakQ was not much for the two of them, and gave them another 
The romantic part of the story is that one of the boys (Sir James 
Roberts) should become the owner of the Saltaire Mills and 
Estate. . . . 

With kind regards to yourself and the Doctor. 

Yours faithfully, 
Thomas Hall. 

In May 1925 this same Sunday School celebrated the 
centenary of its foundation. Joseph Wnght was unable to be 
present, but he made it an opportumty for testifymg to his 
appreaation of the School in other ways — (I quote from the 
Bradford Daily Telegraph of May 6, 1925): 

One of the most interesting features of the openmg pro- 
ceedmgs of the centenary celebrations in connection with the 
Ebenezer Primitive Methodist Sunday School, Idle, which 
took place this afternoon, was the presence of fifty aged people 
through the thoughtfulness and generosity of Professor Wnght, 
of Oxford. 

The story of how their attendance was made possible is 
interesting m itself. A member of the church sent a copy of 
the centenary souvemr to Professor Wright, thinking that he 
would be mterested to learn of the event, as it was connected 
with a chapel which he had attended, and which was situated 
near his birth-place. 

In his reply Professor Wright said : 

I am very pleased to learn that such a great mterest is taken 
m the Sunday school, for there can be no doubt whatever that 
regular attendance at Sunday school does often exercise a 
great influence, on mouldmg the character of young people. 



YORKSHIRE 


54 

This was certainly my experience at the Wood End Sunday 
School, where the influence for good of people hke John Hall, 
William Chffe, etc., on my generation has remained permanently 
with many of us, and whenever I think about these people I 
always feel a debt of gratitude to them for their fatherly and 
kind mterest in us. 

I sincerely hope that your centenary will be a success ^om 
every point of view, and that the necessary funds for main- 
taimng the efficiency of the Sunday school will be forthcoming 
at the vanous services. If it were not such a long way off I 
would make an endeavour to be present at some of them, but as 
that is not possible I have very great pleasure in sendmg you £$ 
for the Sunday school funds and £2 los. for the purchase of 
fifty tickets to be given to fifty old folks who would not other- 
wise be able to attend the pubhc tea party on Saturday. You 
can easily find fifty such deserving people in your midst. 

With kind regards and best wishes to all of you. 

Yours faithfully, 

J. Wright 

The story of the bmlding of their own Chapel by those 
Primitive Methodists is like that of church-bmlding in the 
Middle Ages. Everybody helped, either with manual labour or 
money, or both, at the cost of honest self-denial, and the Chapel 
is to this day reckoned one of the finest and best-planned m the 
distnct. Its history is best given in some notes wntten for me 
by Thomas Hall ’ 

When Mrs. Wnght and her family removed to Windhill, Wood End, 
she became associated with a small Society of Primitive Methodists 
which had its meetmg place m School Street, and the attachment she 
then formed contmued to the end of her life The Society had not been 
in existence very long at that time, and the bmldmg m which it met was 
of a very humble character. It consisted of a cottage with one small 
room on the ground floor, and a larger room upstairs, the latter havmg 
been made by the removal of the partition wall from between two 
bedrooms. Here preachmg services, and a Sunday School were con- 



EDUCATION 


55 

ducted every Sunday, and other religious meetings during the week, and 
a band of Godly men and women devoted themselves to the work of 
winning the people of the neighbourhood to the service of God, and the 
gathermg in of scholars. Street mission work was a special feature of 
those early days, and the singing was of a very lively and enthusiastic 
character 

It was in this Sunday School that Joseph Wright first became a 
schokr, and received his first religious impressions He loved the 
Sunday School and his Teachers, and Sunday to him became the great 
day of the week The School Anniversary was the great day of the year, 
and was eagerly looked forward to As the buildmg was not large 
enough to hold all the people who assembled for this event, the services 
were held in the open air. A large sloping wooden platform was erected 
on which the scholars were seated, many of them dressed in clothes new 
for the occasion The Anniversary was commonly known as ‘The Stand 
Up*. 

After a time the necessity for a larger and more suitable buildmg 
became imperative, and the idea of buildmg a new Chapel and School 
gripped the hearts and minds of this comparatively poor congregation. 
They longed for the joy and triumph of possessing a building of their 
own. 

It was a splendid dream, but one that seemed impossible of realization. 
There was absolutely no money with which to commence operations, 
but these good people did not understand the word ‘impossible* and 
with rare faith and dauntless courage they decided ‘that a Chapel and 
School be built to seat five or six hundred people* 

A Buildmg Trust was formed, and mstructions given for the prepara- 
tions of plans, and at a meeting held on May 29th, 1866, these were con- 
sidered and accepted 

The site of land purchased was one that involved a great deal of 
excavation work, and the next minute recorded was ‘that we purchase 
6 shovels, 3 pickaxes, and a barrow, and begin to dig out the foundations 
on Saturday*. 

So the work commenced and these heroes of faith before going to and 
after returnmg from their daily toil, laboured m preparing for the 
foundations of their New Chapel The spirit that possessed these men 
also gripped the youths and Joseph Wright was amongst those eager to 
render service, and he joyously shared m the use of the pickaxe and 
shovel. [He well remembers canymg stones and mortar ] 



56 YORKSHIRE 

The building of the walls was under the direction and supervision of 
Wm. Cliffe. He was a Stone-mason by trade, a man of sterlmg worth 
and one of the T rustees With the commencement of the actual building, 
the necessity at once arose for the providing of the money required for 
the weekly wages, and the payments for materials 

To meet this need the members devoted themselves whole-heartedly. 
Efforts of every conceivable kind, ordinary and extraordinary were 
made to raise money, and they gave of their own personal means t^^ the 
point of sacrifice. 

But the financial obligations involved were far greater than could 
possibly be met from local resources and to many outside the movement, 
it seemed that the task attempted was beyond accomplishment 

John Hall saved the situation He was a born optimist, he believed 
the work was of God, that it could not fail, and that this beautiful 
structure of which he had a clear mental vision, would assuredly be 
realized Full of this confidence, he gave himself to a campaign of 
‘Money begging’, and in this work he proved himself a genius No one 
could withstand his appeals So strenuous were his endeavours that this 
wonderful Chapel Building enterprise became much talked of in the 
district Over a long period he gave three and four days a week to this 
work, and the financial results were marvellous 

Durmg these strenuous days, Mr Hall used to say that his butcher’s 
meat often came from Yarmouth (being Kippers) 

Another amusing story has relation to a Prussian [= Persian] Cat 
owned by Mr, Hall which was conspicuous for its size and beauty. The 
Kittens of this Cat were much in request, and so, a fancy price was put 
upon them for the benefit of the Chapel Funds 
Notwithstanding all the struggles and anxieties of this chapel building 
period, those were great days, and great was the rejoicing when the 
pinnacle stone was placed upon the building This was laid by two 
sons of Wm Cliffe and John Hall, who were named after the founders 
of the Connexion, Hugh Bourne and Wm. Clowes [The foundation- 
stone was laid on July 20, 1867, and the Chapel was opened on November 
27, 1868.] ^ 

The total cost of the building (mcluding the land) was £4,250, Of 
this, about £2,500 had been raised at the close of the opening services. 
The following years witnessed great debt reduction schemes, and the 
time came when the debt was wiped out. 

Joseph Wnght continued his service and attachment until his removal 



EDUCATION 


57 

from Wmdlull, and since then he has manifested his interest and regard 
by many generous contributions to the Funds His youngest brother, 
Dufton, IS still attached to the old chapel 

Towards the end of the period between 1870, when Joseph 
Wnght learned to read, and 1876, when he left the mill and 
became a schoolmaster, he went for a short hohday to France. 
He jays : T got to know some Frenchmen who lived at Wmdhill 
Crag They had been weavers m France, at Roubaix, and came 
to England after the Franco-German War, and settled at 
Wmdhill, where they had a mill. I used to talk French a good 
deal with them. Then I went to Roubaix for a hohday, and 
they gave me mtroductions to people there, manufacturers I 
could talk French as fluently as English whilst I was still at the 
mill.’ In the same way he got mto touch with Germans, m 
order to improve his colloqmal German. There were large 
numbers of Germans living in Bradford. Joseph Wright has 
often said that sittmg in Manmngham Park on a summer 
evenmg, when the band was playing, you could easily imagme 
yourself in Germany, from the language spoken by the crowd 
of people round about you. 

One memorable occurrence belonging to Wmdhill days 
remains to be chromcled, mdeed, but for what seems the 
direct intervention of Providence, there might have been no 
further chronicle to wnte. On August 28, 1875, there was an 
excursion by train from Bradford to Malham, a well-known 
beauty-spot m the distnct, where a tiny group of houses nestles 
in the dale below Malham Tam, and where, not many yards 
away, the river Aire suddenly spnngs into being. Amongst the 
excursiomsts was Joseph Wnght All his life walking has been 
his favourite form of exercise and recreation, one might say his 
only form of recreation, apart from smoking. He and a few 
of his young friends went oflt roanung on the moors. Towards 
evening a thick mist settled down on the tops of the hills and 
the boys lost their way, so that when ultimately they reached 
the railway station the excursion train had long gone It was a 
blessing m a commonplace disguise, for had they not lost their 

1 



S8 YORKSHIRE 

way they might have lost their lives. Near to Kildwick a 
Scotch express ran into the excursion train, and numbers of 
its passengers were killed or injured, the while a cloud came 
and overshadowed Joseph Wright and his compamons out on 
the open moors. 


V SCHOOL TEACHING 

So far, during all this early penod of self-education, Joseph 
Wright contained to be by trade a woolsorter, earning his 
daily bread by the labour of his hands, but now came the great 
change in his worldly career, when he launched forth to earn 
his living as a teacher and a writer. Perhaps he would not have 
left the xmll precisely at the moment he did had it not been for 
the fact that the mill temporarily ceased running, and so his 
work there came to a sudden stop, not of his own seeking. When 
the mill began going again, Joseph Wright was gone beyond its 
recall. The unexpected break occurred in the early spnng of 
1876, and Joseph Wright, having managed to save the sum of 
£40, determined before setthng down again to regular earmng, 
to take a ‘Semester’ [i.e a Term] — or as much of one as he 
could afford — at a German Umversity.^ His choice fell upon 

^ June 7, 1931 In going through a mass of correspondence connected with 
the beginnmgs of the Dialect Dictionary, I to-day came across the following 
letter, written — ^twenty years afterwards — ^by a chance fellow-traveller on that 
journey to Germany 

61 Underhill Road y East Dulwich 

London ii^wZy, 1896. 

Dear Sir, 

In February 1876 when 26 years old, I travelled via Harwich and Rotterdam 
to Hamburg 

On board the steamer soon after leaving Harwich when I stood on deck 
enjoying the sea-air and above all the freedom of a holiday after 4 years umnter- 
rupted drudgery in a London office, a young man entered mto conversation 
with me He told me he was a wool-sorter m Bradford, ^hat he had a holiday 
and meant to spend a week m Cologne m order to try and learn German, that 
he already could speak French and that he acquired his knowledge by hard 
study and by burning the midmght oil He told me of his hopes and of his 
prospects of eammg £150 as a correspondent m a merchant's office if he could 
succeed. 

Myself a strugglmg, earnest young man my deep sympathy went out to this 
young man and though I lost sight of him at Rotterdam . yet I have often 



SCHOOL TEACHING 59 

Heidelberg. Arrived at Antwerp, his plan was to make the 
remainder of the journey on foot for the sake of economy. He 
had learned from a German friend in Bradford of the existence 
of an organization in Germany for the behoof of the honest 
artisan on the tramp. He now availed himself of this. He had 
procured a duly authorized document which allowed him, in 
any town through which he passed, to claim admittance to the 
local ‘HerbergeV a modest kind of hostelry, where he could 
get food and a bed for a very small sum. The fare, of course, 
was rough but substantial and good. Nobody was expected 
to make a prolonged stay, so Joseph Wright never spent more 
than one day at any of these stopping-places, but he stiU speaks 
of them as ‘giving out a feehng of human kindness towards 
those who are down, especially if they meant to get up’. He 

thought of him smce and felt great admiration for him and a desire to know how 
he got on m the world and whether his hopes and endeavor were crowned with 
success 

Reading to-day in the newspaper the enclosed notice I thought you must be 
that same young man, a supposition which you will find justified after perusal 
of the said notice 

Would you kmdly oblige me by wntmg me a few Imes to say whether I am 
right m my supposition 

In that case I should be very happy to renew your acquamtance and to 
congratulate you and express my joy at your success 

I may mention that I myself though not a great success yet am not a failure 
but in comfortable circumstances I mention this so that you should not think 
begging IS my object 

Hoping to be favoured with a reply 
I remam. Dear Sir, 

Yours faithfully 

F COPMANN. 

The newspaper notice, now lost, was doubtless a paragraph about the publica- 
tion of Part One of the Dialect Dictionary 

^ Professor Fiedler supplied me with the followmg note concenung these 
special inns ‘The Herberge\ he says, was ‘a modest inn, or hospice, a house of 
call for joumeymen-mechamcs, and -artisans In the days of the guilds there 
was a Herberge in almost every German town, mamtamed by the vanous guilds 
for the benefit of them travellmg members When the guilds were abolished, 
Herbergen zur Heimat were established in many German towns by organizations 
correspondmg to the Young Men’s Christian Association m this country, for 
the purpose of providing places of rest, beds and meals at very moderate prices 
for young men of the artisan (and shop-assistant) class, and keeping them away 
from the temptations of common lodgmg-houses and public-houses The first 
Herberge of this kmd was established m 1854 Bonn ’ 



6o 


YORKSHIRE 


says : ‘I \ised to have most fnendly talks with the “boss”, and 
I went on with a little letter from lum to the next place I had 
a fairly good vocabulary in German, so that I could talk to 
these people ’ 

To improve his German still further, before he arrived in 
Heidelberg, he stayed for a few weeks in Cologne, where he 
found a good friend in Cook’s Agent; ‘He was a lame man, 
livmg m the Dom Hof Square He took me up like a fatfiier, 
and was tremendously kind to me, introduced me to his 
friends, invited me to tea, and lent me books to read. I lodged 
with some better-class people to whom the Railway Station- 
master sent me I had a very nice room on the third story up, 
very cheap The man was a wholesale tobacco merchant, or 
traveller His son Carl was then at the Gymnasium. I kept up 
correspondence with the family till long after I came to Orford. 
The son Carl came to London to learn English.’ After this 
sojourn in Cologne, Joseph Wnght then went on by road to 
Heidelberg. The Semester at a German Umversity is roughly 
about fourteen weeks, the Summer Semester running from 
May till towards the end of July. Joseph Wnght at this time 
could, however, only afford to spend about eleven weeks in 
Heidelberg He confined himself to the study of mathematics 
whilst there, apart from extending his knowledge of the 
German tongue. Amongst his remimscences of this his first 
visit to Germany, he tells : ‘I remember distinctly the first time 
m my life that I drank a cup of coffee was at the Cafd Wachter 
m the Hochstrasse in Heidelberg. I felt as if I was going into 
a pubhc-house, and I had never been in one in England, it 
would have seemed to me a dreadful thing to do.’ 

When he returned to Windhill he had already made up his 
mind to give up working m a null and make a career for him- 
self m scholarslup. It was necessary to consider’ the financial as 
well as the intellectual outlook, and something must be foimd 
immediately which would be a means of livehhood He was 
now fully equipped for teaching several subjects, mathematics 
especially; he had discovered and proved his own gifts for 



SCHOOL TEACHING 


6i 


imparting his knowledge ; and as a bom teacher he had found 
pleasure in the use of these gifts; he therefore decided to 
become a schoolmaster. Relying as he always did on his own 
efforts to further his own plans, he went round to various 
schools m Bradford, calling on the head master and mquinng 
if there was a vacancy on his staff Dr. Dyson, the head master 
of a school in Horton Road, recommended him to apply to 
Mr. Watson. Joseph Wnght called at his school, and at once 
succeeded in obtaimng a post there. Mr. Watson’s School was 
situated just off Manmngham Lane. He had previously been 
established in Hallfield Road, and it has been stated that it was 
there that Joseph Wnght began as assistant schoolmaster, but 
this IS not the case. The Bradford Corporation had bought the 
Hallfield School from Mr. Watson for a large sum of money, 
as a site for the present Girls’ Grammar School. Mr. Watson^ 
then built Spnngfield School, and it was here that Joseph 
Wright took up teaching as a profession m September 1876 

When makmg mqumes about this school, I received the 
following letter from Mr. James Robinson of 8 Pollard Street, 
Bradford: ‘I was one of Mr Watson’s scholars in 1863, and 
at that time the school was in the old Green Market, top of 
Darley Street, and the School was opposite Chnst Church, 
which was also m the Market place, and about the same tune 
removed to Hallfield Road . . It was considered one of the 
best Schools m Bradford, and at that time the only teachers 
were Mr. Robert Barr, and Mr Caims. The School was called 
Watson’s Academy. . . . Mr. Wnght would be there after my 
time ’ 

Joseph Wnght received board and lodging at the Spnngfield 
School from Monday morning till Fnday evening, and a 
salary of £40 a year. He says he felt ‘passmg nch’, but finan- 
cially he was poorer than he had been latterly as a woolsorter 
at the mill. He was again acting on his pnnciple, ‘never put 
money first’. He went home for the week-ends, when he 
devoted his time mainly to his ovm work, except for some few 

^ Mr Watson died m 1887 



62 YORKSHIRE 

hours spent on extra teaching. On Saturday mormngs he had 
a class in Euclid and Algebra for pupil-teachers, from lo a.m. 
till I o’clock, at sixpence per head for the three hours — ^“It paid 
me very well’, he says. In the afternoon he held a French Class, 
open to anybody who liked to come. Speaking of this new 
enterprise when he became a professional schoolmaster, he 
says : ‘I began school teaching with no traditions, never h^ng 
been in a school before, either as a boy or master. I had no 
knowledge of customary routine or methods.’ Perhaps we have 
here one of the secrets of his subsequent success; he was led 
on by his own genius for teaching, which proved a far surer 
guide than any rules laid down for the guidance of the ungifted 
No small credit is due to Mr. Watson for perspicacity m enroll- 
ing this raw recruit, though no doubt the ex-woolsorter did 
three parts of the business himself. To complete the story it 
was necessary to learn how the boys viewed the new assistant 
schoolmaster. I was fortunate enough to discover two or three 
‘Old Boys’ who had known Joseph Wnght at Spnngfield. It 
was somewhat of a shock to me to find that they remembered 
him chiefly for his mighty arm, but they were only schoolboys 
at the time. The following are extracts from their letters : 

November z^th, 1928. ... I am proud to tell how my dear 
old schoolmaster (then a yoimg man) gave me a good thrash- 
ing. This is how It happened; I forget the lesson, but we had 
to read m turn, after an explanation from Mr. Wnght, he said, 
I will cane the first boy who makes a imstake. I made a mistake, 
of course I would, bemg about the biggest dunce in the school. 
As good as his word, he gave me a few strokes with the cane. 
It came round to my turn again, not a word came from me. 
Mr. Wnght called out, Demson your turn, no_^ answer, Demson 
your turn!! I answered, you caned me for doing my best, I 
won’t read. What do you say? said Mr. Wright, at the same 
time coming down the room with a firm grip of the cane. I 
tried to escape him, much to the merriment of the other boys, 
he caught me and gave me somethmg to remember. 



SCHOOL TEACHING 63 

Mmd you, before this incident and after I had a great affec- 
tion for the young schoolmaster, who was always very much m 
earnest One thing I will never forget, Mr. Wnght said, I was 
sorry to punish you Demson, because I always hked you, for 
him to have said this, made the thrashing worth it. 

To me, as I think of him in those far off days, he did not 
look,the schoolmaster, he seemed more like an athlete, with a 
strong, rugged extenor, but with kindly eyes, behmd his 
spectacles, which never allowed him to look very cross, at the 
same time he had a masterly and determined look, which made 
the boys respect him and feel he was their master. 

We all hked Wright, and to me as I look back to Watson’s 
School, he seemed to subdue all the other masters, in spite of 
his being so much younger, he was forceful and master of his 
subjects, and it seemed to me, he could not imderstand how it 
was others could not grasp things like he did. 

When the class was dismissed, you would see him bound two 
or three steps at a time, up to his study and beloved books. I 
used to wonder if he ever went out for a walk, for one never 
saw him away from the school. I expect the only time he went 
out, would be to buy his tobacco, for he must have been a great 
smoker, when he appeared in the schoolroom, he brought with 
him a scent of ‘Fruit and Honey’ or ‘Honey Crop’ or some such 
fragrant tobacco. I do believe he helped to make smokers of 
most of us, for during my school days, Oliver Ives and myself 
bought a clay pipe each, and half an ounce of ‘Light Shag’, 
went to the top of Maimingham Park, and tned to acquire the 
habit of our schoolmaster. It mastered us, for we threw the 
outfit away, however we m time mastered the accomplish- 
ment. 

At the end of the term in which I left, John Coates and my- 
self returned to the school to fimsh our imfimshed drawings 
and foimd Mr. Wnght there studying, on this occasion, he 
forgot his schoolmaster’s air, and had a chat with us, I think it 
was then when he informed us he used to sit up until the small 
hours of the morning studying. 



64 


YORKSHIRE 


Other old boys along with myself are proud of your hus- 
band’s successes and the distmctions which have been showered 
upon him. . . . 

With kindest regards to my old schoolmaster from one of the 
old boys of Springfield School. 

Dyson (Dick) Denison. 

49 Sunhndge Road, Bradford. Jan 'jth, 1929. 

Dear Madam, 

Yes' as one of the Old Boys at ‘Mattie Watson’s’ I remember 
Joe Wright, also Pat Ritchie. I was only 10 at the time, and my 
impression of your husband, to my then youthful mind, was of 
a big, strong man, who used to wield a good hefty cane, with 
his left hand, I think, and who used to slap the blackboard with 
It, and us too when we deserved it. 

Ask him if he remembers Sam Redman chewing blotting 
paper, and throwing a good-sized lump at another boy, where 
It stuck on his cheek, and then denymg it several times, till 
J.W. came down from his desk, and pointmg at the blotting 
paper with his cane — ^which had been placed next to an ink- 
pot — said ‘do you mean to tell me you did not throw that?’ 
Sam, seemg the game was up, said, ‘Oh yes, I threw the blot- 
tmg-paper, but I thought you meant the Ink Pot’. I also 
remember the same boy after bemg ‘kept in’ locking Pat 
Ritchie in the class-room and throwing the key into a field, and 
I believe it was some hours before Pat was rescued. . . . 

Another thing I remember, is when the school got on fire 
one wmter afternoon, and how greatly disappointed I was when 
J.W. helped to put it out. I was praying all the time that he 
might not be successful. . . . 

We have talked many times in latter years about ‘Joe Wnght’, 
and although I ought to have done better after bemg under so 
distmguished a scholar, I am proud to have been one of his 
pupils. 

Yours faithfully, 

William Nunn Hinchcliffe. 



SCHOOL TEACHING 65 

Joseph Wright summed up his recollections of the Sam 
Redman mentioned m the above letter thus ‘I remember him 
very well, a very first-class worker as a lad, and very much 
attached to me — quite a purposeful boy.’ During the War he 
came over to England from America, and called to see Joseph 
Wright m Oxford He came — a. tall, vigorous man of middle- 
age^and greeted his former schoolmaster by saying ‘I was 
one of your bad boys at Sprmgfield.’ 

53 Palmer Park Avenue, Reading, Oct. 1st, 1938 
Dear Madam, 

Your letter, also the one from my brother to yourself, I have 
now before me, and m reply I may say it is quite correct that 
I was a pupil at Springfield House School, also known as 
Watson’s Academy, at the time your husband was an assistant 
master. 

Although some 50 years have passed, I have no difficulty in 
recalhng those times and many of the mcidents. I remember 
your husband well, and we all thought highly of him if we did 
not always show it 

My father, a Bradford Chemist, knew him intimately, and 
so appreciated the interest Mr. Wnght took in my elder brother 
Clement — a proimsing and brainy youth — ^he specially desired 
he would keep an eye on the work so badly performed by me m 
another class under the care of a jumor master, Mr. Threlkeld. 

At that time I admit I was a ‘handful’, and failed to respond 
to the tutorial efforts of your husband. My father, an old- 
fashioned and somewhat stem type of Victorian, agreed to a 
regular dose of corporal treatment, and my skin still twitches 
at the thoughts of the able way m which it was apphed, no 
doubt with the best intentions, by your husband. . . . 

Yours faithfully, 

H. W. Rogerson, L.R.I.B A. 

Out of school hours at Sprmgfield, Joseph Wright still 
pursued his ovm studies with ever-increasmg ardour. He kept 

K 



66 YORKSHIRE 

on with German, taking lessons now from a man called Saul, 
who was a professed teacher of German in Manmngham; he 
also began to learn Greek. He had now gamed a footing m the 
scholastic world, but this was not enough, and he resolved to 
prepare for the London Matnculation Examination With this 
project in view he attended evening classes at the Yorkshire 
College of Science, Leeds, which afterwards became Leeds 
University He says* ‘I was among the first who ever attended 
evemng classes there Every time I went I had to walk back to 
Manmngham, a distance of mne or ten miles The railway fare 
was mnepence, and that was too expensive I used not to get 
back till after midmght. I went to Professor Rucker, a Brase- 
nose man, who conducted the classes in Mathematics, and for 
Enghsh I went to Professor Ransome ’ He taught himself 
chemistry, solely from books, for, he says • ‘ I passed the examina- 
tion, but I had never in my life seen an expenment in chemistry.’ 
He took the examination in Inorgamc Cheimstry held on 
May 3, 1877, by the South Kensington ‘Science and Art 
Department’ The certificate states* ‘This is to certify that 
Joseph Wnght, aged 21, obtained a Second Class in the 
Elementary Stage.’ A week later he gained a similar certificate 
for Mathematics — ‘a. First Class in the First Stage’ He sat 
for the Examinations in Bradford. The original of these certi- 
ficates, the previous one for Shorthand, and all the subsequent 
ones Joseph Wright ever gamed were hung — ^framed and 
glazed — ^by his mother m her parlour at No. 6 Wellington 
Street, Windhill, where they remained to her dying day. 

The following year, in May 1878, he won f^urther certifi- 
cates . for Mathematics, ‘a Second Class in the Second Stage’, 
and for Inorgamc Cheimstry, ‘a First Class in the Elementary 
Stage’. Shortly afterwards he achieved his goal, he matricu- 
lated at the Umversity of London, and liis mother proudly 
hung on her parlour wall a very large certificate statmg that : 
‘Joseph Wnght matriculated as a Student in the University of 
London at the June Exaimnation in the year 1878, and that he 
was placed in the First Division. William M. Carpenter. 



SCHOOL TEACHING 67 

Registrar July 24, 1878.’ The subjects were* French, Ger- 
man, Latin, English, Natural Philosophy, four Books of Euclid, 
Arithmetic, and Chemistry Surely a fine record for one who 
had only begun to learn to read and wnte just eight years 
before' In any case it would have been no easy feat, still less 
so when it is remembered that Joseph Wright educated himself 
at l^s own expense Not even his mother, dunng his child- 
hood, ever spent a shilhng on his education, indeed he was 
largely responsible for maintaimng his home all the time. 

I may mention here that m 1882 he passed the Intermediate 
Examination for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts, at the Univer- 
sity of London, but he never subsequently took the full B.A 
Degree there 

In 1879 he left Springfield School, in order, as he says, ‘to 
better myself. Mr Watson encouraged me to move on, as he 
could not afford to pay me a higher salary.’ He still possesses 
as a memento of this school a ‘Round Robin’, containing four- 
teen names, which was presented to him with a travelhng clock. 
Within the circle of names is inscribed ‘A small Testimomal 
to Mr. Joseph Wnght by the boys of the Second Class on the 
event of his leaving Spnngfield School, Apnl 9th, 1879.’ 

He next obtained a post as resident assistant master at Grove 
Park School, Wrexham, where the majonty of the boys were 
boarders. The Head Master was Mr William Russell, the 
brother of the late Mr. John W Russell, Fellow of Merton 
College, Oxford, and for many years mathematical tutor at 
Balliol College. It was a well-estabhshed Wesleyan School, 
previously owned by a Mr. Pryce-Jones, whose sister Mr. 
Wilham Russell had mamed. Joseph Wnght says ‘Mr. Pryce- 
Jones must have been a great teacher, and organizer of school- 
education. The teaching was very efficient, and the boys did 
remarkably well m exammations of all sorts, including scholar- 
ships at the Umversities I taught general subjects there 
Many of the boys were Welsh-speaking boys, and there was a 
Welsh service held at the parish church every Sunday after- 
noon I took the opportumty of learning some Welsh, and 



68 


YORKSHIRE 


always went to church every Sunday afternoon. Some of the 
boys were very enthusiastic in helping me to learn to speak 
Welsh. I remained at this Wrexham School two years.’ He 
left it in 1 88 1, but before taking up another post, he planned to 
go to France, to get further experience in speaking French. 
He again visited Roubaix, this time spending a few months 
there. He lived m lodgings, and gave lessons in English.and 
Mathematics at the Commercial Academy, 

On his return to England, he obtained a mastership in a 
large private school at Margate, where he was much better paid 
than he had been previously The salary here was £ioo a year, 
with full board and lodging. He descnbes the school thus: 
‘The Head Master’s wife and his sister gave the boys first-class 
food, they were excellently looked after and fed, and were kept 
very neat and tidy, but no real work was done. The boys 
wouldn’t work, and they had no encouragement from the 
Head Master. I did not stop there long I left because I 
threatened to box the Head Master’s ears in front of the boys, 

. and he thought we ought to separate, which we did, I had told 
him that the boys in the far seats were playmg nap during 
prayers, and he wouldn’t take any steps to stop it.’ Thus 
ended his sojourn in Margate ; he left m the Sprmg of 1883 

* The following letter from an old Margate pupil came to light recently 

May 31 , 1896 

Dear Dr Wright, 

Will you accept the very sincere congratulations on your successful career (of 
which I have just read m John o’ London’s weekly paper) from one of your old 
pupils at Margate in the year 1883 or 1884^* [This date is an error] I 
distmctly remember with what energy and seventy (the latter I am sure much 
needed) you laboured to impart the rudiments of Latm, particularly the 9th book 
of Virgil, to Prust Ellacot, Turkey Mayer, and myself, I am afraid but little of 
It has ‘stuck’, as Kiplmg says I shall certamly in the future be much more 
proud of my education than I have been, now that I can boast of having enjoyed 
the mstruction of so distinguished a scholar with such a hne'tharacter as yourself 

Believe me, Admiringly yours, 

Edward Preedy 

Mr Preedy has smce kindly sent me some copies of the School magazine — 
‘Our News’ — contammg references to Joseph Wnght Feb 8, 1882, ‘New 
Teachers — ^Mr Beveridge is succeeded by Mr Wright (of London University)* , 
March 8, ‘Through the influence of Mr Wright a Paper Club has been added 



SCHOOL TEACHING 69 

Though his stay there was short, it had one very marked and 
abiding consequence, namely, he became stout He had always 
been tall, big-boned, and strong, but hitherto very thin, so 
much so, that he excited the pity of the motherly matron of the 
school, and she insisted on givmg him a large supply of extra 
milk. The good food and the good air of Margate had such a 
ben^cial effect on his constitution that he became almost 
portly, and this together with the fact that he already wore a 
beard, gave him the appearance of being much older than he 
really was. The reason why he grew a beard so early m life 
was that, the hair growing all ways, he could never shave without 
mfiicting on himself grievous woimds. It was a very thick and 
pronounced beard, hke the hair of his head. His cousin, Thomas 
Wnght,gave it as a family characteristic : ‘T’Wnghts had plenty 
o’ top on, no bald heads ’ It was whilst he was at Margate that 
he jomed the Church of England, and together with some of 
the bo3^, and one or two of the masters from the school, he 
was confirmed in Canterbury Cathedral 

He always says that he gave up school-teaching as a profes- 
sion because he felt he would never make a successful Head 
Master. He loved the boys, and he still thinks ‘teaching is the 
best job m the world’, but he says he ‘couldn’t do with parents’, 
he could never have dealt diplomatically with them. Seeing, 
then, that he never wanted to be at the top of the pedagogic 
tree, he now turned his ambitious mmd to other ventures in 

to the recognized institutions We purpose giving in this and following 
numbers a series of notes on King Lear They have been made at the expense 
of much pams by Mr Wnght, and will deserve the earnest attention of the 
Oxford local candidates ’ March 15, ‘The Paper Club — ^This Club is domg good 
work . It has been found necessary to formulate a code of simple rules for the 
purpose of regulating the readmgs, which task has been undertaken by Mr 
Wright The Sf^llipg Bee announced m our last took place on Monday 
evenmg last Work and supper being over, the vanous candidates ranged them- 
selves in order before the Interrogator, Mr Lewis, while Mr Wright, who 
kmdly officiated as Referee, armed with Johnson, sat enthroned on high, im- 
mediately at hand ’ 

Mr Preedy tells me that the school had ‘no Easter vacation then, and term 
went from January to Jime* Probably Joseph Wnght did not complete the 
one term 



70 YORKSHIRE 

the world of letters wherein he had resolved to make for himself 
a future career. 


VI JOSEPH WRIGHT'S BROTHERS 
Since 1879 his work as a schoolmaster at Wrexham and Margate 
had separated him from the rest of his family for most of the 
year. Now, in 1882, his next step made the separation piore 
complete It may, therefore, not be out of place to give here 
some account of the earlier and later lives of the two brothers, 
Tom and Dufton, who remained with their mother m the old 
home in Yorkshire 

In Joseph Wright’s letters to me he refers to the struggles 
he and his mother had m order to give these two boys some 
school education They were both broadly-built, hke Joseph 
Wright, but owing to insufficient food when a growing lad, 
Tom became permanently lame, both his legs being bent side- 
ways at the knees He always walked with a stick, but to the 
end of his days he was very strong and active, and nobody who 
came in contact with him could regard him as m any sense a 
cripple He was by nature full of vitality and humour He 
overflowed with talk about anything and everything. Joseph 
Wright used to say that Tom would talk with equal readmess 
to anybody, be it to king or pauper. By this constant intercourse 
with all sorts of people whom he met in the street, m busmess, 
in trams and trains, he amassed a fund of varied information, 
which he reproduced coloured by his own origmahty and vivid 
local phraseology. It was one of my great treats when we went 
to Yorkshire, every summer, to hear Joseph Wnght chaffing his 
brother Tom, drawmg him out to the top of his bent, all m the 
nchest dialect on both sides. When a walk was proposed, I 
always elected to stay behmd, and sit listening to Tom 

Like all other boys in the district, Tom went to work in a 
mill. Here he early started being m a small way a sort of pedlar, 
selhng tapes, pins, cotton, &c., to his fellow mill-workers. 
When his mother’s health began to decline, he gave up the mill 
to stay at home with her, and developed his own trade on a 



JOSEPH WRIGHT’S BROTHERS 71 

larger scale He bought cloth, ready-made clothes, hats, &c., 
in Leeds, and sold them on a weekly instalment system The 
collecting from house to house was within his walkmg powers, 
he provided good matenals at moderate prices, and worked up 
quite a prosperous busmess, and even saved quite a goodly 
sum of money. He was like a daughter to his mother. He did 
all the rough work of the house for her, and waited on her when 
she was ill The two were ‘almost like lovers’, Joseph Wnght 
used to say Tom was the friend of all children and dogs, and 
never was without a dog of his own I remember once when we 
were sittmg with him m the cottage kitchen, a tiny child came 
to the door and looked wistfully at him ‘Want a bit o’ cake?’ 
said Tom, and he fetched a slice of bread and gave it to the 
child I expected the poor little girl to be disappointed, as I had 
not then learned that cake meant bread. When the mother died, 
m 1903, Tom could not bear the presence of any other woman 
m the house, so he continued to the end of his life domg all his 
own work. He cleaned the house, did the baking, and the 
washmg, even to the starching of his own collars So coura- 
geous and mdependent he was, that rather than own that he 
felt ill, he went out by himself late one cold mght to get some- 
thmg from the chemist, to reheve what he had just told his 
sister-m-law was only a bad cold, and he died suddenly of 
pneumonia m the street, on February 2, 1922. 

Tom Wnght belonged to the Primitive Methodists, but one 
of his best fnends was the Vicar of Wmdhill, Canon R. Winkup, 
now Vicar of Heaton, Bradford. The latter wrote of him- ‘I 
had a real fnendship with Mr. Tom Wnght, and I was much 
gneved to hear of his death a few years after I left Windhill. 
He was an onginal and unusual character for whom I had a 
smcere respect. 

‘I can picture him now at the door of his house, or by the 
fireside mdignantly denouncmg a certain class of people that 
he had heard of or seen makmg their way to the Vicarage for 
rehef . He had a very sincere desire to dehver me out of the 
hands of all such people. In his desperate efforts to impress 



72 YORKSHIRE 

upon me the utter unworthiness of some of these visitors he 
would draw a graphic picture of the hardships through which 
he and his mother and the family had had to pass, and then 
quote with much emphasis Psalm xxxvii, v. 25, P.B. Edition: 
“I have been young, and now am old : and yet saw I never the 
nghteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread ” This 
was a favounte text of his vuth which I think he at times raised 
the ire of some of his neighbours. It was no imcommon thmg 
to pass down the mam street and find him engaged evidently in 
hot debate with a certam type of the inhabitants who were not 
appreciatmg the unpalatable maxims which he was throwmg at 
them in his own mimitable Yorkshire fashion. He had a qmck 
eye to detect humbug and hypocrisy, which was “anathema” 
to him, and which he would denounce quite irrespective of any 
pohtical, religious, or social class. Indolence and slatterhness 
would also greatly rouse him. 

‘Despite all this, he had a tender and beautiful nature, I am 
sure that Woodend WmdhiU is distinctly poorer for the loss of 
him in all sorts of ways. I retam very pleasant memories of the 
late Mr. Tom Wnght, he was no ordinary type of individual, he 
stands out in clear silhouette fashion as I look back upon the 
days of my ministry at WmdhiU. His charactenstic wave of the 
arm m greetmg, his unconscious humour, his innate refinement 
and humility below his somewhat rough exterior, his deep 
sympathy which was seldom expressed in words, yet so clearly 
there as I remember it m my work at WmdhiU and m his feeling 
towards you and Dr. Wnght m the death of your children, 
stand out before me as I write.’ 

The youngest brother, Dufton — ^whose birth m 1861 I have 
already chromcled — still lives at WmdhiU. He tells me that the 
first tlung he did when he began the life of a wage-earner was 
‘wick-picking’, that is, pickmg up the couch-grass m the wake 
of a plough, and pihng it m heaps for burning He only did 
this for one day, he says, and then he went ‘to t’MiU’. That 
was m 1869, when he was just eight years old. He worked at 
the miU for eight years, but his mmd was set on an outdoor 



JOSEPH WRIGHT’S BROTHERS 73 

occupation, and in 1877 he took up work in a stone-quarry at 
Woodend, the same quarry where Joseph Wright had begun as 
a donkey-boy. There he remamed for twenty-eight years, being 
foreman of the quarry for the last fifteen of them. He mamed 
in 1894 Lydia Baker, whose parents lived m Wmdhill, though 
they were not natives of the district, having come there from 
East Anglia 

In 1906, a year after he left the quarry, Dufton was appointed 
libranan and caretaker of the Wmdhill Free Library When 
I asked him why he retired from this post in 1923, he said: 
‘Ah’d getten stalled on it.’ He still talks his native dialect, and 
makes no attempt to adopt standard English I should think 
there are few people left who have preserved the Bradford 
dialect of half a century ago m such purity. To hear Dufton 
Wnght describing his experiences as a poultry-keeper, or re- 
peating dialogues between himself and some neighbour he has 
come across in one of his dady walks with his dog, is m itself an 
entertainment worth hearing. It is difficult to quote him on 
paper, but I tried once to record a story he told me of an inci- 
dent which happened when he and his wife were staying with 
us in Oxford. ‘Ah remember,’ he said, ‘once watchin’ sum 
workmen agate on a new bmldin’. T’missus wor wi’ me, an’ 
Ah says: “Sitha, lass, they can put them bricks on t’same as 
penny caakes, can’t tha ?” One o’ t’chaps heerd ma, an’ ’a starts 
up smgm’ “On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at”. “You’re a Yorkshireman, 
am’t you?” ’a shahts ’cross t’ruad. “Ah am, an’ all, lad”. Ah 
shahts back, “Ah nobbut cum three mile thro’ [=from] 
Bradford”.’ 



CHAPTER TWO 

GERMANY 

I N the spring of 1882, Joseph Wright again gathered his 
savings together and went for the second time to Heidelberg. 
This was the beginning of a penod of six years in Germany. It 
was the custom for a German student to divide his time between 
two or three Umversities dunng his whole course. Joseph 
Wright was at Heidelberg, Freiburg-in-Breisgau, and Leipzig. 
He began with Heidelberg. T went’, he says, ‘with a view to 
doing mathematics, but at an early stage I got to know Professor 
Osthoff and he invited me to attend his lectures on Comparative 
Philology, and I was so fascinated by the subject, that I decided to 
take up Comparative Philology in earnest, and devote all my time 
and energies to it Everybody who would be a philologist must 
have done mathematics , or be capable of domg mathematics . ’ 
These were the openmg sentences to our chapter on his 
student life in Germany which I wrote down whilst he was still 
here to help me compile this Biography. The chapter stopped 
short on the second page of the manuscript, and must now 
be continued without his guidance and supervision, from his 
dictated notes, and from matenal kindly given me by people 
who knew him in those days. 

The full range of his studies in Germany is set out in detail 
in the preface to his testimonials when he became a candi- 
date for the Deputy-Professorship of Comparative Philology at 
Oxford in February 1891 . In his account of himself, addressed 
to the Electors, he says : 

‘Long before I thought of gomg to study in Germany I had 
made myself intimately acquamted with the works of Grimm, 
Schleicher, and Curtius. , - 

‘In the Spnng of 1882 I matriculated as a student of Com- 
parative Philology at the University of Heidelberg, and after 
having undergone the necessary training under Osthoff, Bartsch, 

* Professor Hermann Osthoff had been Professor of Comparative Philology 
at the Umversity of Heidelberg since 1877. 



PLATE VII 



GROUP OF ‘JUNGGRAMMATIKER’, HEIDELBERG 1886 
Reading from left to right : Drs. Albert Thumb, Howard P. Jones, M. Dittmar, Hermann Osthoff, Ferdinand 
Holthausen, Bernhard Kahle, Ludwig Siitterlin, Victor Michels, Joseph Wright 



HEIDELBERG 75 

Holthausen, I proceeded to the Examination for the degree of 
Ph.D. at the end of the Summer Term m 1885. The detailed 
subject of the special thesis which I imdertook for this purpose 
was: The qualitative and quantitative changes of the Indo- 
Germanic vowel system in Greek. 

‘The subjects of my Exammation were: 

•Principal Subject. The Comparative Philology of the Indo- 
Germanic languages. 

First Secondary Subject. The Comparative and Historical 
Grammar of the Germanic languages in detail. 

Second Secondary Subject. Anglo-Saxon language and 
literature. 


‘In the Sprmg of 1886 I matnculated at the Umversity of 
Leipzig, in order to contmue my studies under the guidance 
of LesHen, Zamcke, Scholvm, von Bahder, Kogel, and Tech- 
mer. Whilst I was still a student at Leipzig I imdertook and 
prepared for the press, under the personal supervision of 
Prof. Brugmann, the English translation of the first volume of 
his Grundnss der vergleichenden Orammatik dervndogermamschen 
Sprachen, which was published at the beginmng of 1888. 

‘Durmg the six years of my studentship at Heidelberg and 
Leipzig, I attended full courses of lectures upon the Compara- 
tive and Historical Grammar of the followmg languages : 


Sanskrit Grammar 
Latin „ 

Greek „ 

Gothic „ 


• Osthoff. 


Leskien. 


Old Bulgarian „ 

Lithuanian „ 

Russian „ Scholvm. 

• • 

Old Icelandic Grammar 
Old Saxon „ 

Old High German „ 

Middle High German Grammar* von Bahder. 
Anglo-Saxon Grammar: Holthausen. 


Kogel. 



76 GERMANY 

‘In addition to these, I also attended Osthoff’s lectures on 
the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-Germamc languages; 
Techmer’s lectures on the general principles of Comparative 
Philology; Zamcke’s and Bartsch’s lectures on the History of 
German Literature, and Holthausen’s lectures on Anglo-Saxon 
Literature. I was also a member of the “Seminar” of Bartsch, 
Zamcke, Kdgel, and von Bahder. 

‘For the purpose of learmng how to grasp and fully under- 
stand the minute processes of sound-change, I attended full 
courses of lectures on practical phonetics both in Heidelberg 
(Holthausen) and Leipzig (Techmer), and have devoted a con- 
siderable amoimt of attention to the study of Modern Enghsh 
dialects for the important light which they throw upon the 
general prinaples of Language. Both of these lines of study 
are known to be necessary to the student of Comparative 
Philology, who desires to have a clear perception of the precise 
nature of soimds, and to distingmsh between sounds and the 
symbols used to represent them in any given dialect or lan- 
guage, as well as to be able to register and systematize the 
sound-laws of unwritten languages.’ 

Other lectures mentioned in notes he dictated, not included 
in the list above, are : Professor Sutterhn’s lectures on Historical 
German Grammar ; Kuno Fischer’s ^ on German Literature ; 
and Fntz Neumann’s on Romance Languages. 

At the outset of his student career Joseph Wright estabhshed 
himself in lodgings in Neuenheim, a suburb of Heidelberg on 
the far side of the ‘New Bridge’ across the nver Neckar. ‘I 
had’, he says, ‘most comfortable quarters with a land-surveyor’s 
family. I had two rooms — ^large, and with a garden in front — 
for which I paid 30 marks per month for rooms and breakfast 
consisting of butter, rolls, and coffee. My dinner — a first-class 
dmner consisting of soup, and two dishes besides, for which 
I paid one mark — I had at “Der Schiff”, in Neuenheim. My 

^ Kxmo Fischer was Professor of Philosophy and History of Modem German 
Literature at Heidelberg Fntz Neumann was Professor of Romance Languages 
at Freiburg-m-Breisgau, and later at Heidelberg 



HEIDELBERG 


77 

supper I got at a “Backerei”. It xisually consisted of bread, 
butter, eggs, and coffee, for which I paid 40 pfennig ’ 

Treating of the cost, &c., of University life in Germany the 
notes continue : ‘You took your own choice of lectures, and paid 
3 marks per lecture — one lecture per week — ^throughout the 
whole Semester^ of 14 weeks. So that, if you attended, say, 
12 lectures a week all told, you paid 36 marks, i.e ^(^3 12. o. a 
year. This includes all you had to pay for instruction, because 
Semmars were free. There were no such thmgs as “Umversity 
dues”. If your credentials were satisfactory, your immatricula- 
tion cost 20 marks for your first Umversity, and ex-matncula- 
tion cost 3 marks For immatnculation at a second University 
the fee was 3 marks. 

‘Lectures began at 7 a.m. m summer, because of the heat 
later in the day. Kuno Fischer — who lectured on Goethe and 
Schiller — could do what he liked, he could draw the biggest 
audiences in Heidelberg, and that on a hot afternoon in 
summer. He stopped once in the middle of a lecture, and 
pomted at a student saying: “Der schlaftl” [ = that man is 
asleep] There were no tutors, and the lecturers never lectured 
with a view to exams. The ideas relative to exams were quite 
different from those common here in England Students did 
take exams, but lecturers taught the subject. In German Um- 
versities it is the atmosphere the teachers create that counts, not 
the stuff they put into you Here, too much importance is 
attached to the exammation, and what will “pay”, eveiything 
turns on exams. 

‘Each lecturer had his “Seminar”, or Class of students, the 
number of which was not supposed to be more than 12, 
though by special favour, sometimes 16 to 18 were allowed to 
attend In a “Jimior Semmar” the number perhaps might go 
up to 20. This Class was held by the Professor any time after 
5 p.m., and lasted about an hour and a half When it began at 

^ The German academic year is divided mto two semesters, or terms, viz 
{a) Sommersemester, middle of April to middle of August, (6) Wintersemester, 
middle of October to middle of March Lectures begm (a) end of April , (i^) end 
of October 



GERMANY 


78 

6 p.m. they would all go together to a beer-house after it was 
over, and have supper. Each student was expected to write 
some sort of essay every week, which was sent in to be looked 
over by the Professor beforehand. At the Semmar, the Pro- 
fessor first opened the discussion, then two students spoke, and 
lastly the Professor gave his opinions. Every Seminar had its 
library, and the members could take home a number of bpoks. 
These libraries were aided by grants from the State. The 
Germamc Semmar in Leipzig had a huge hbrary, and a big 
room where students could work all day. It was made great 
use of, especially in winter, because it was warm there to sit 
and work.’ Joseph Wnght himself never depended on libraries. 
He added in connexion with the above notes: T have always 
been a great buyer of books. I had a large quantity to bring 
home after bemg in Germany. A man called Smith, a com- 
mercial traveller, got me a cheap passage at a reduced fare from 
Hamburg to Hull, so that I could bring the goods home by sea. 
He knew the captain and the ship.’ In some notes he dictated 
to me concerning the beginnmgs of his Oxford life, and his 
gratitude to a friend for a timely loan of £10, he said. T had 
no money, I had spent it all m Germany, and on hooks, for 
I had a good library. I made all sorts of economies m order to 
buy books, and have a good hbrary of my own. That is why 
I have such a big library now.’ 

When speakmg of this time spent in Germany, Joseph 
Wright often pointed out how entirely different was student 
life at a German University from what one knows m Oxford. 
There was no corporate life m Colleges, and — ^m the ’eighties — 
there was practically no sport. Even rowmg on the Neckar 
was seldom practised by Heidelberg students. There were the 
Clubs, to which the wealthier yoimg men belpnged, and these 
‘Korpsstudenten’ did not do much work. Joseph Wright 
descnbed them as ‘spending the first part of their time m beer- 
drinking and pleasure, domg nothmg else at all; and then 
domg a certam amount of very hard work at the end. They 
would knock off the drinking and pleasure, and “einpauken” 



HEIDELBERG 


79 

[ = cram] m order to get through their exams.’ When we were 
in Wurzburg m 1908 I saw a brewer’s dray passmg through 
the streets filled with ‘Korpsstudenten’ m their scarves and 
caps, hoistmg up their beer-mugs, and smgmg their club songs. 
In later years, when we stayed just outside Freiburg-in-Breis- 
gau, Joseph Wright often remarked on the increasmg number 
of students he saw dnnkmg tea or coffee m the hotel garden, 
when a fine afternoon attracted people from the town. 

He was twenty-six when he matnculated at Heidelberg 
University, so he was much older than most of his fellow 
students. He was, however, later invited as ‘Alter Herr’ 
[ = semor member] to j'oin the ‘Frankonen’, one of the most 
distinguished student clubs in Heidelberg. He had never 
tasted beer till he went to Germany, and he had been there a 
long time before he tasted it then. Amongst the reminiscences 
written down for me by Miss Partridge, the first ‘senior 
assistant’ on the staff of the Dialect Dictionary, is : ‘Dr. Wnght 
said: “The first time I went mto a Bterhaus m Germany, I 
looked over my shoulder to make sure that my mother was not 
watching me.” ’ ‘I could drink enormous quantities’, he said, 
‘but I never did habitually, only on occasion of a “Kiieipe” 
[ = beer festivity] with students.’ Such an occasion was some- 
what rare, as he had neither the tune nor the mclmation for 
purely social entertainments. There still exists in his hbrary 
a ‘Kommersbuch’, the Students’ Song Book, with its pro- 
j'ectmg brass studs m the cover, to prevent mjury to the bindmg 
when the book was laid on a table where much beer had been 
spilled. He never forgot the songs, and snatches of the most 
popular ones were often on his hps ‘Ich weiss mcht, was soil 
es bedeuten’; ‘Der Mai ist gekommen, die Baume schlagen 
aus’; ‘Gaudeamus igitur’; &c. He liked to repeat to English 
students a revised version of ‘Alt Heidelberg’ which ran: 

Alt Heidelberg, du Feme, du Stadt an Juden reich, 

Am Neckar und am Rheme nur Mannheim kommt dir gleich. 

Several magmficent beer-mugs were presented to him by 



8o GERMANY 

different people. One of them, mscribed ‘Dr. W. Bartels s /1 
[= seinem heben] Dr. J. Wnght’, &c., was given to him by 
a student he had helped m Leipzig m 1886. Another com- 
memorates his degree, and was given him by the Professor of 
Comparative Philology* ‘Dr. H. Osthoff s /1 Dr. J. Wright zur 
Erinnerung an den 3. Jiim 1885.’ 

He occasionally watched a duel, a form of sport njpstly 
earned on by the ‘Korpsstudenten’. At Heidelberg all duels 
took place in a special hall in the Hirschgasse, beyond the ‘Old 
Bndge’, on the far side of the Neckar. We have often looked at 
it since — ^from the outside — ^and Joseph Wnght has talked of 
old memones. Now and again he allowed himself time to go 
to the theatre. Students had the privilege of obtaimng tickets 
at a cheaper rate than the general public; he could at any time 
get a good seat at a first-class performance for the sum of six- 
pence. He has often told the story of a curious incident which 
happened on the occasion of an evemng at the theatre He and 
some of his fnends made up a party to go to the Opera at 
Mannheim. They sat too long over a supper afterwards, and 
missed the last train back to Heidelberg. There was nothing 
to do but to walk back, a distance of about ten miles. When 
they got as far as Schwetzingen, they were feehng himgry, and 
seeing a hght in a Gasthaus, they went up to it, and knocked 
at the door. When the innkeeper appeared, Joseph Wnght, 
just for fun on the spur of the moment, addressed him in broad 
Yorkshire, and the following dialogue took place — (the phonetic 
transcription is J. W.’s own) : ‘Esto gut to eit it oil’ [ = hast thou 
an37thmg to eat in the place, ht. hole]? Ans. ‘F3(r) siuo 1 ev’ 
[ = for sure I have]. J. W. ‘ Wgt esto’ [ = what hast thou] ? Ans. 
‘Qut to laiks’ [= anythmg thou likest]. ‘It turned out’, Joseph 
Wright would conclude, m telling the tale^ ‘that the man had 
been ostler at a public-house at the bottom of Wakefield Road, 
Bradford, and knew the Bradford dialect, but didn’t know 
standard Enghsh.’ 

In the autumn of 1883 Joseph Wright left Heidelberg and 
went to Freiburg-in-Breisgau for one semester, where he at- 



HEIDELBERG 


8i 

tended the lectures of Professor Paul,^ Professor Brugmann,^ 
and Professor Neumann. I have no records — spoken or written 
— of the time he spent at the Umversity of Freiburg, beyond 
the bare facts that he ‘went there to study under Paul and 
Fritz Neumann’, and that he ‘did not stay long’ Professor 
Brugmann moved to Leipzig in 1887, and it was there that he 
and Joseph Wnght came into close contact with each other 
over me translation of Brugmann’s book. 

The Anmeldungshuch which I have before me testifies that 
on May 10, 1884, Joseph Wright was once more a registered 
student at Heidelberg. It is signed by ‘H. Osthoff’, and 
‘Bartsch’,2 the Professors whose lectures he was attending that 
semester. In his own notes referrmg to the penod of his return 
to Heidelberg Umversity he says. ‘By teachmg mathematics 
in my spare time, I succeeded m eking out my scanty savings. 
I became a master at Neuenheim College, a boardmg school 
for Enghsh boys — ^about 120. I got the post through an agent 
I taught mathematics about four hours a day. For a time I 
lived in the College, before going into rooms. The Head 
Master used sometimes to bring in Heidelberg people to hear 
my lessons given ’ This last detail has been independently con- 
firmed from other sources. I have been told that the Head 
Master used to say he had'never heard anybody teachboyswith 
such clearness and enthusiasm’. The school was situated on 
the farther bank of the Neckar, opposite the famous Castle on 
the slopes of the KLaiser Stuhl. Dr. Holzberg, the Principal of 
Heidelberg College, has supplied me with an account of the 
school, and of Joseph Wnght’s teaching there, from which I 
translate the following* ‘A school for the benefit of Enghsh 
famihes resident in Heidelberg had been foimded some time 
m the middle of last century, and was knovm as the “Inter- 
national Institute”, at first under the direction of Dr. G^aspey, 


^ Paul was Professor of German Language and Literature; Brugmann was 
Professor of Comparative Philology 

2 Dr Karl Bartsch was Professor of German and Romance Philology at 
Heidelberg from 1871 to his death m 1888. 

M 



8a GERMANY 

and later of Dr. Klose. About the year 1880 the school passed 
by sale into the hands of the Rev. F. Armitage. Under him 
it was put on an entirely English basis, and styled “Neuenheim 
College”. The pupils were prepared for the Army, Navy, the 
Umversities, and the Civil Service m England. There were, of 
course, special classes for pupils who had come to Germany 
only for the sake of learning the language, and who re<^uired 
not merely a fluency in speakmg, but also a thorough training 
in grammar and commercial correspondence. Ultimately — ^in 
1906 — ^Neuenheim College was united with Heidelberg College, 
which latter had been founded in 1887 by three former teachers 
from the old school. One of these founders. Dr. Holzberg, is 
still head of the school, which, however, owing to the War, 
has now been compelled to give up its purely English character, 
and transform itself into a German “Realgymnasium”. Since 
1883 Dr. Holzberg has been first of all a master at Neuenheim 
College, and then Deputy-Director. In 1884 Joseph Wright 
became a member of the teaching staff. 

‘Dr. Holzberg has still a very clear recollection of his col- 
league, and of the peculiarly strong impression made at the 
outset on teacher and pupil by this burly man with a big dark 
beard and moustache. His subjects at that time were princi- 
pally mathematics and Enghsh, and by his decided pedagogic 
talent, his mdustry, and his efficiency, he was very soon able 
to secure the definite progress of his pupils m these subjects, 
the more so because the maintenance of disciphne was in no 
way a difficulty to him. He used to range the pupils m a semi- 
circle in front of his desk, and woe to that one who perchance 
had not learnt his lesson; he must, as a penalty, forgo a sub- 
stantial portion of his free time, and would not be set at liberty 
till he had thoroughly learnt his task. Fuller, Wright did not 
hesitate to call his pupils’ attention to his “bunch of fives”, a 
term he was specially fond of using to denote his powerful 
hand, which might now and again come into palpable contact 
with a pupil’s cheek. The result was that the boys had an 
enormous respect for him, but that nevertheless they loved him. 



PLATE Vni 





HEIDELBERG 83 

rightly feeling that he solely desired their good, and that they 
indeed learnt something from him, which previously, under less 
gifted masters than he, had not always been the case. 

‘The teaching staff of Neuenheim College at that time was 
composed of quite a number of assiduous young men, of whom 
seven in the course of a few years gained their Doctor’s Degree 
at Heidelberg Umversity. Wnght was the second of these 
seven. . . . His devotion to study and his absolutely unceasmg 
application caused him never to lose a imnute, and outside his 
lesson hours one always saw him busy with some learned book 
Sundays in particular, he spent on his own work, and at the 
same time he had the charge of the whole number of boys 
belongmg to the College, whom, as a rule, when the weather 
was at all favourable, he took for a walk. Even then he was 
accompamed by a Gothic or Old High German Grammar, or 
some other hterary work useful to him m prepanng for his 
Doctor’s exammation, the which, when passed, he celebrated 
m the regular old German fashion in a solemn “ELneipe” with 
his friend. Soon after he had taken his Degree, he gave up his 
post at Neuenheim College, m order to devote his whole time 
to his studies, in the pursuit of which he betook himself to 
Lreipzig. ... It may be mentioned that Wright was closely 
connected with the publishing business of Juhus Groos, and 
stood on friendly terms with the head of the firm, Herr 
Stadtrat ’Wmt&r, so that after leaving the University he had 
often occasion to return to Heidelberg.’ 

Mr. Richard Northcott, the honorary secretary of the Old 
Neuenheimers Society, wntmg to The Times (March 5, 1930), 
said of Joseph Wnght: ‘His career as a master at Neuenheim 
College — ^now no more — will ever be remembered by those 
who had the bei\efi^ of his patient tuition, for “Old Joe” — ^his 
nickname ! — ^had a way with him to wm the esteem and affection 
of all who were brought into contact with him.’ Amongst the 
boys whom he taught was Mr. John Hassall the artist, who 
wrote to me (June 6, 1930) as follows : ‘I have just five minutes 
ago done a pencil sketch of your great husband. It shows what 



84 GERMANY 

an admiration I had for him, that after 44 years I can see him 
in my memory as if the time was only a week. His brown hair 
and beard were as I Ve shown. He always wore a rather tight- 
fitting frock-coat, buttoned up, and trousers p’raps a httle bit 
on the short side, and as, of course, he never had time for 
games, I don’t remember him ever weanng an5i:hing but the 

smt sketched It was he that gave us the School Motto jmder 

the crest or shield It was “Habaith m izwis salt”=“Have 
salt in yourselves ” 

‘Now the right hand always had a finger m the middle, not 
for reference, but to use the back of the book as a mallet on an 
inattentive boy’s head. So nearly all the boys always were 
attentive in his class. He made no secret that he was only 
teaching at the school to enable him to attend the University 
classes he was speciahzmg in, and so apologize for being im- 
table. For it must have been annoying to have to forgo some 
important reading to go into a class-room and teach somethmg 
altogether beneath him. However, he dtd what he wanted to do, 
what he’d made up his imnd he was gomg to do, and all the 
World knows it, and I thank you whole-heartedly for giving 
me the chance to tell you how we all admired him.’ 

Foremost among Joseph Wright’s speaal friends in Ger- 
many was Professor Holthausen,^ who has not only given me 
for quotation m this Biography an invaluable senes of letters 
wntten to him by Joseph Wright over a penod of forty years, 
but has also sent me further renuniscences of the days when 
they were at Heidelberg Umversity together with a common 
interest in English philology. His notes run on beyond the 
Heidelberg period, but I quote them all together, as he wrote 
them. 

Wiesbaden, May 13, 1930 (Translation)., ‘I got to know 
Joseph Wnght in the summer of 1885, when I came to Heidel- 
berg to habihtieren [i.e. qualify for a teachership at the Uni- 
versity]. We had rooms side by side at Prof. Osthoff’s, and 
soon became good friends; we took our meals together, we 

^ Later, Professor of English Philology m the University of Kiel. 



HEIDELBERG 


8S 

went walks together, &c Naturally, m so doing, we talked a 
great deal of “shop”, as J. W. was prepanng for the Doctor- 
examination. I thus also had opportumty for getting to know 
something of his “School” and his colleagues. He will, of 
course, have told you about his examination, how he borrowed 
a tail-coat, and privately in the Umversity building itself, put 
It on^ and later took it off. We celebrated the “Jubilaum” 
together in 1886 with mutual pleasure — ^he was the last one to 
come home from the great “Kommers”' In the summer vaca- 
tion I was for a few weeks — (Aug. and Sept ) — his guest in 
Wmdhill, where we studied dialect. It was a very stimulating 
occupation, for we discovered almost daily new soimd-laws 
and etymologies You would know his mother and brothers, 
so that I need not tell of them. I had some difficulty in under- 
standing the good lady We went sometimes to Leeds, to make 
use of the reading-rooms, and also to attend a theatncal per- 
formance. But his mother was not to know anythmg about this, 
for she hated the theatre Later he went to Leipzig, and for 
some time I heard nothing of him 

‘In the winter of ’87/8 1 again spent a month or so m London, 
and was almost daily together with J. W We lived not far 
from each other, and often went for walks, even m fog. I was 
at the time busy over the publication of Vices and Virtues 
and he was writmg his Middle High German Primer. In the 
evenmg we read aloud to each other m his room, our day’s 
work. He was also giving lectures, then, in one of the Women’s 
Colleges m Oxford, and he often told me, with much mdigna- 
tion over it, how small the linguistic knowledge of his women 
pupils was ; and he also explamed certam defimte plans for the 
future. He was in everything so energetic and methodical, 
that he frequentjly ^tounded me. I often saw him afterwards 
in England, but I do not need to teU you about this.’ 

Joseph Wright took the Degree of Ph.D. at Heidelberg in 
1885. His certificate is dated June 6, and is signed by Dr. 
Hermann Osthoff, one of the Professors who held the oral 
exammation preceding the Degree. Accordmg to his own notes, 



86 GERMANY 

Joseph Wright was examined by three Professors: Osthoff, 
Bartsch, and Scholl.^ Four Classes were obtainable by the 
candidate for this Degree* I. Maxima cum Laude; II. Insigni 
cum Laude; III. Cum Laude; IV. Ohne Predicat. Joseph 
Wright was awarded Class II. 

It was about this time that Joseph Wright was livmg in 
Professor Osthoff’s house, when Professor Holthausen was 
there with him, as he says m the notes I have quoted above. In 
a further letter to me he wrote : ‘We merely had rooms in his 
house, near together, and our meals we had at the Restaurant 
“Zum Schiff” by the bridge in Neuenheim.’ Writing to his 
former pupil and lodger ten years later. Professor Osthoff con- 
cludes his letter with : ‘My wife and the children send kindest 
greetings to the old friend of the family [“Hausfreund”], which 
IS how we shall always think of you amongst ourselves.’ 

As a pupil of Professor Osthoff, Joseph Wright at the outset 
of his student career embraced the tenets of the New School 
of Grammarians, the ‘Jimggrammatiker’ as they called them- 
selves. ‘I belonged’, he says, ‘to that set. They were mostly 
Germanic scholars — ^Paul, Sievers, &c. — anxious to push for- 
ward philology. The term is dead now, but was very common 
in my student days. Quite a number of my fellow-students 
afterwards became Professors: for example, Streitberg^ (with 
whom I was at Leipzig), Michels^ (Heidelberg and Leipzig), 
Thumbs (Heidelberg and Leipzig), and Lenz, who became a 
schoolmaster at Baden-Baden.’ A more detailed explanation 
of the term has been sent me by Professor Fiedler, as follows : 
‘The name “Junggrammatiker” is generally given to a group 
of yoimg philologists who m the last quarter of the nmeteenth 
century fought for the recognition of certain Imguistic principles 
first stated by Hermann Osthoff and Karl,Bi;jigmann in their 
MorpJwhgische Untersuckungen auf dem Gdnete der tndoger- 
mcmischen Sprachen (Leipzig 1878). The most important of 

* Scholl was Professor of Classical Philology m Heidelberg 

* Wilhelm Streitberg, Professor of Indogermanic Philology and Sanskrit at 
Mtinster, Victor Michels, Professor of German Language and Literature at 
Jena; Albert Thumb, Professor of Indogermanic Philology at Marburg 



HEIDELBERG 87 

these pnnciples was that “the laws of soiind change adnut of no 
exception”, that is to say that within the limits of any language 
or dialect at a particular period all sounds have changed mto 
the same other sounds, and where vanous sounds are seen to 
replace one and the same sound the cause must be sought in 
the diflE^erence of phonetic conditions, such as varying accent, 
proximity to other sounds, or m the influence of analogy. After 
a prolonged and heated controversy, in which all the leadmg 
plnlologists took part, these principles were, with certain modi- 
fications, umversally adopted. Professor J. Wnght was a strong 
advocate of them from the beginning, and explamed them m a 
public lecture ^ at the Taylor Institution, Oxford, m November 
1891. He also translated the first volume of Brugmann’s 
Grundriss der verghichenden Grammatik der tndogermanischm 
Sprachen (Strassburg 1886), the first important work m which 
these pnnciples were consistently and extensively apphed.’ 
Through the kindness of Professor Holthausen I have been able 
to mclude m this book a photograph of a group of these pioneers 
in philology at Heidelberg. He wrote (Apnl i, 1931): ‘The 
picture was taken in the Jubilee year, in the summer of 1886, 
when we were so happy all togelher. Tempi passati!’ (It was 
the Jubilee of the University of Heidelberg: 1386-1886.) Pro- 
fessor Hoops m the biographical article for the Festschrift 
presented to Joseph Wright on his seventieth birthday, refer- 
ring to the latter’s student days in Germany, wrote (I translate 
the German): ‘Just that penod was the Golden Age of the 
“Jimggrammatiker” School, and Joseph Wright became an 
enthusiastic member of it. Later he did more than anybody 
else towards the naturalization of German scientific philology 
m England, and by his countless activities he developed in the 
practical form of his own published works the stimulus he had 
received in Grermany.’ 

So many of those enthusiasts who were photographed 

* Vide Osford Umverstty Gazette, November 10, 1891. ‘The Deputy Profes- 
sor will deliver a Public Lecture at tiie Taylor Institution on the Operation of 
the Laws of Sound-Change on Saturday, November 28, at 5 pan.’ 



88 GERMANY 

together in that group are now gone, that it was a special 
pleasure to receive at this point a long letter from one of 
them — ^Professor Ludwig Siitterlin’' — containing a delightful 
sketch of his old friend as he was when a student. (I translate 
the German) : 

Freiburg-t.-B. lo. 5. 31. 
... I knew Wright well. I was a student m Heidelberg at the 
same time with him — 1883 to 1888 — ^under Osthoff, Bartsch, 
and Freymond. (Thumb, Michels, and Kahle who are in the 
picture with me, are no longer Hving, nor is Lenz either. 
Dittmar was Director of the G3mnasium in Zittau ( ?).) Your 
husband was then assistant master at Neuenheim College. . . . 
He was not able to attend the lectures very regularly on account 
of his teaching engagements, but we, his seniors m academic 
standing, greatly admired him for his ‘Abgeklartheit’.^ His 
brown beard and moustache, and his black frock-coat gave 
him a dignity of his own. The fact that he enjoyed drinkmg 
German beer gained him the hearts of the German students! 
Even m those days he used to smoke his comfortable short pipe. 
Anybody who came to know him intimately could see that he 
had a childlike cheeriness of mind, and a fund of good-natured 
humour. Shortly before his Doctor-exanunation we were to- 
gether at a small gathering at Osthoff ’s (with whom Wnght was 
just then hvmg, and havmg private lessons) till far into the 
night. Finally there remained Wright, myself, and perhaps 
one other, alone with Osthoff m intimate conversation over our 
beer. Long after nudnight Wnght withdrew, while I stayed on 
till 6 a.m. and had to nuss my Romance Seminar. . . . Wright 
is supposed to have gone on working even after this late gather- 
ing!! When Wnght went to his Doctor-exanunation — so the 

^ Professor of Comparative Philology at the University of Freiburg-m- 
Breisgau. 

^ This IS a difficult word to translate, for it has no precise equivalent m 
English Dictionaries stop short at the verb abklaren, to clanfy, make clear , and 
AhkLarungy clarification The best defimtion I have been able to obtam is this , 
The state of one who had worked through all difficulties, and was left with a 
clear view of life, or of the subject studied 



HEIDELBERG 89 

story goes — ^he, who hated all conventionahties, packed up the 
then prescribed tail-coat in brown paper, travelled by the 
electric tram in his everyday coat to the Umversity, changed 
there into the tail-coat, borrowed a tie from the Bedell when 
the latter informed him that a white tie must be worn, got 
through his examination bnlliantly, gave back the tie, changed 
his coat, and set off back to Neuenheim with his brown paper 
parcel!* This cool composure and independence naturally 
made a great impression on all those who knew him 

He invited me to his ‘Doktorkneipe’. He made a speech on 
this occasion, in which it is true he praised German scholarship 
very highly, but found fault with it for not being ‘practical’ 
enough. He said that in England he intended to be ‘practical’, 
and devote himself to the pursuit of scientific studies on those 
hnes. He carried out this scheme • everything he has written 
IS clear and mtelhgible! 

A few years later, when Wright was once on a visit to Heidel- 
berg, Osthoff had invited him and me together, and another 
English gentleman. The latter pnvately made the remark that 
Wnght spoke English so ‘carelessly’ (droppmg the h, and such- 
like); he was much astomshed when we informed him that 
Wright knew Enghsh better than any other Englishman, that 
he understood exactly how he spoke, and why he allowed his 
dialect to be perceptible m that way. . . . 

I have always retamed pleasant memones of him. When I — 
as a young man — ^was m England, and visited him in his house 
(m 1894) he was very nice to me, and took me and Napier with 
him for an excursion on the nver. We were also often together 
at the Oriental Congress which was bemg held at the time. In 
his learned works what I always liked so much was the clearness 
and calm judgement which pervaded everything; yet all the 
while he would be deahng with the most difficult and compli- 
cated problems. At the Jubilee of the Heidelberg University 
when we were going together to the ‘Gartenfest’ at Schwetz- 
mgen, he told me and Dr. von Bahder on the platform of the 
Heidelberg railway station that he had Paul’s Pnnzipien lymg 

N 



90 GERMANY 

on the table at his bedside, and continually read it as anybody 
else would a Bible! That must have been in the year 1886. 

I have not been able to offer you much, but nevertheless, 
from what I have given you here, you will see for yourself that 
we in Heidelberg always valued and liked your husband. 

Yours sincerely, 

L. SUTT^^IN 

Sir Michael Sadler, now Master of Umversity College, 
Oxford, was a student at Heidelberg with Joseph Wright in 
1884 So, too, was the late Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President of 
the University of California. He was in Oxford for some 
weeks in 1896, and Joseph Wnght mentioned him in letters to 
me, adding. ‘We were students together at Heidelberg, and 
took our degrees nearly at the same time.’ Dr. Francis J. 
Curtis, Professor of English Language at Frankfurt, is another 
friend of those days. He wrote to me (April 3, 1930): ‘I first 
made his acquaintance in Heidelberg, m company with Prof. 
Osthoff, just after he had taken his Doctor’s degree, and it was 
certainly partly due to his influence that I decided to remam 
for some longer time in Germany. Both then and always 
subsequently he showed a most kindly mterest in myself and 
my career, for which I owe him deep gratitude.’ 

In response to a petition for more remimscences. Professor 
Curtis subsequently sent me a sheaf of notes and a collection 
of letters giving valuable dates and details concerning the 
progress of the Dialect Dictionary, and the earlier Grammars. 
He speaks of his own notes as ‘msignificant’, but to me they 
are exactly the opposite! The descnption of Joseph Wnght 
with his good dinner before him on the festival day when all 
the restaurants were overcrowded, and hungry guests were 
wandermg m a vain search for food, is splendidly charactenstic. 
Then, too, the evidence of the way the story of the tail-coat at 
the Doctor-examination was handed on to the next genera- 
tion of students, and remembered by them, reminds one of epic 
heroes round whom clung legends of gallant exploits. Joseph 



HEIDELBERG 


91 

Wright in the electric tram with his brown-paper parcel takes a 
place in the imagination beside Beowulf as he swam through 
the sea carrying thirty suits of armour. So, for these reasons, 
I quote the notes m full • 

Frankfurt, May 3isf, 1931. 

... I really did not see so very much of your husband in 
Heidelberg, as he went away not long after I first came, which 
was ih the summer term of 1886, the term of the great jubilee 
celebrations (500th anmversary of the foundation of the 
University). I lived m the house of a German schoolmaster, 
Prof. Pielmann, in Neuenheim, very close to Armitage’s school 
(Neuenheim College) where your husband taught, and Prof. 
OsthofF’s house, m which he then lived. I first met him m the 
‘Krone^ the mn where he sometimes sat m the evening with 
other Neuenheim masters and students and professors. One 
evemng my attention was called to a burly figure with a large 
beard, smokmg a pipe and drinking beer on the other side of 
the room, and was told that he was a fellow-countryman who 
had recently taken his doctor’s degree with a specially good 
examination, chiefly in Comparative Philology I was in- 
troduced to him and soon afterwards called on him at Prof. 
Osthoff’s, and there first met Prof Holthausen, then just 
becoming — or just become — ^Pnvatdozent We then occasion- 
ally met at the ‘Krone’ or elsewhere; once we had a long walk 
through the vineyards and woods. I remember vividly and 
thankfully the kmdly mterest he took m me and his readmess 
to give me advice as to studies, and Heidelberg conditions and 
people. I was impressed by his account of his work at Armitage’s 
school and its notoriously unruly boys, with whom, however, 
he himself had no difficulty, for ‘you see,’ said he, ‘I have a 
pretty heavy hand and they know that I won’t stand any non- 
sense’, so that the heavy hand was apparently seldom called mto 
requisition. I remember a ‘Doktorkneipe’ (I think Dr Bron- 
ner’s) at which there was a large party of Neuenheim masters, 
students, and several professors, and he sang ‘Who killed 
Cock Robin?’ as his contribution to the evening’s merriment. 



92 GERMANY 

saying afterwards, ‘Ah, I wonder what my dear good old 
mother would say if she saw me here at this jovial meeting’ — 
or something to that effect. On the great day of the historical 
procession, the ‘Festzug’, which everybody turned out to see. 
Prof. Pielmann told his lodgers that there would be no midday 
meal at home that day, everybody must shift for himself and 
get a feed where he could. After several unsuccessful attempts 
to get served in vanous restaurants in the town, I went with 
an Enghsh boy, a fellow-boarder at Pielmann ’s, to the ‘Schiff’ 
iim, where, I think. Dr Wnght usually dined, hopmg to be 
more successful there, as it was in Neuenheim,and we had been 
there before, but the place was so crowded that we could neither 
find a seat nor get a waiter to bnng us anything We at last 
strayed into a small room, where he was quietly sittmg in a 
comer, with a good meal before him. We told him of our 
difficulty and asked how he had managed to get served, and he 
told us that the only way to get anything was to go mto the 
kitchen and get it direct from the cook and brmg it away with 
us, a hint which we at once took, though with not quite so 
much success as if we had been regular customers like him, 
instead of mere casual interlopers. At the great ‘Kommers’ m 
the Festhalle, he had the privilege, I believe, of sittmg among 
the professors at high table, while we students sat at a distant 
table. Later on, at some small hour, he joined us, and he then 
told me that he was leavmg Armitage’s and Heidelberg for 
good ; so after accompanying him home (we were near neigh- 
bours) I did not see him again for some time. But when he 
paid a visit to Heidelberg later on (I think he came from 
Leipzig) he called on me in my attic and found me makmg up, 
with the help of Kluge [Kluge’s Etymological German Dtc- 
tionaryl, my own etymological dictionary of Gothic, which 
seemed to please him, and I rather fancy that a good word 
from him gamed me the good graces of Osthoff, whose lectures 
on Gothic I had been attending. I was then eking out my 
limited funds with private lessons and teaching at Armitage’s 
school, and it was then, I think, that he told me how he had 



HEIDELBERG 


93 

earned some money (I think he said £^o) by wntmg an 
elementary French Grammar Or it may have been later, when 
I called on him at Oxford after my exam and return to England. 
He kmdly invited me to stay overnight with him We talked 
of old times and discussed my future plans, and he introduced 
me to Mayhew, Napier, and Stevenson I had some thoughts 
of getting on the staff of the Oxford Dictionary, and it would 
perhaps have been better for me if I had done so. . . 

I am afraid these few memones may not be of much use, as 
they tell more about myself than about Prof. Wnght But at 
any rate they throw a small sidelight on his great kindhness 
and encouragement of younger men, his strong will and 
determmation, and spint of energetic work, and his thorough- 
ness as student and scholar, but of these the whole of his 
remarkable hfe gives abundant evidence ... I shall never forget 
the kind way m which, often in correspondence, he continued 
to show his mterest in me, and was ever ready to advise with 
valuable counsel 

By the by. Prof. Holthausen told me once of his shyness at 
appeanng at his examination m a dress smt, as was then the 
custom m Heidelberg. Perhaps he has also related this to you 

At Heidelberg outside the Umversity circle, Joseph Wnght 
had a valued fnend in Herr Carl Winter, semor, who in part- 
nership with Herr Wolff then earned on the pubhshmg busmess 
known as Juhus Groos, now owned by Dr. R. Wolff, the son of 
Herr Wmter’s partner. In the notes dictated to me by Joseph 
Wright, he says: ‘I got to know Mr. Wmter at an early date. 
After taking the German Degree, and later when I was in 
Oxford, Mr. Wmter’s “garden house” was place. I always 
went there in the vacations. George — ^the gardener, a great 
man at frmt-trees — ^and his wife were well-to-do people. 
George owned considerable property m Handschuhsheim [a 
village just beyond Neuenheim]. I lived there free, that is, I 
had lodgmg, and breakfast, the food for which was fetched 
from Mr Winter’s house. Dinner I had at the “Schiff”. Herr 



94 GERMANY 

Winter was then a widower, with two sons, in those days young 
schoolboys.’ One of them — ^Herr Otto Winter, the pubhsher — 
giving me his recollections of Joseph Wright m a letter dated 
October 27, 1930, wrote [I translate the German] : ‘For me, 
the memory of this splendid, bndly man is interwoven with 
my youth, and will be ever with me. My Father too, was very 
fond of him personally, and had from the beginmng a great 
belief in his future as a scholar. . . . He was, when a student, a 
jolly fellow, and for us boys a capital pla5rmate. How many a 
summer evemng have we called him out into the garden, when 
we saw a hght in his room in the garden-house, and romped 
aroimd ■with him, and then after that he would set to work 
a gain at his books He might, too, come back home late from a 
jovial gathering of students, and even then sit down to work; 
but all the same, he could often sleep till midday, and we had to 
fetch him out of his bed when we came back from church. As 
to his studies under Ostholf, you will know more than I do, he 
had great respect for him as a teacher and scholar He has often 
told me how, for example, Osthoff took long walks ivith his 
pupils, and utilized the occasion for imparting advice and 
instruction.’ 

In 1886 Joseph Wnght left Heidelberg for the Umversity of 
Leipzig. In his dictated notes he says: ‘I hved in Elster- 
strasse [= Magpie Street] in lodgings, where I had bed and 
breakfast, and went out to dinner and supper’. He perhaps 
moved to these rooms later, for the early letters to Professor 
Holthausen are dated from ‘Weststrasse 66’, and this is the 
address on a ‘Legitimations-ICarte’ made out on October 28, 
1886. Together with this card he preserved membership 
tickets for the ‘Akademische Lesehalle’, and the ‘Germanist- 
ischen Institut’ in Leipzig available for the ‘Winter-Semester 
1886/87.’ Stored up with these is a still more interesting relic 
showing that he had left pleasant memories behind him in the 
hearts of his friends in Heidelberg. This is a ‘Bier-Karte’, 
dated ‘12, 12, 86’, covered with signatures m pencil, imder 
vanous expressions of regret that he is not present at a farewell 



LEIPZIG 


95 

‘Kneipe’, which his fnends are celebrating, and where they 
will drink ‘ein Halben’ to his health. The three pnncipal 
signatures are those of Holzberg, OsthofF, and Holthausen 

As in Heidelberg, so now here in Leipzig, Joseph Wnght 
had to take pupils in order to keep himself while pursmng his 
own studies. T did,’ he says, ‘a great deal of teaching in Old 
English and philology ’ One at least of his teachers feared that 
he was thereby mjunng his own progress : ‘Leskien advised me 
to give up cramming other people for the Doctor exaimnation 
I could cram almost anybody The Professors examined, and 
I knew all their lectures very well ’ To the end of his days he 
liked to tell Enghsh students that he was liable to be arrested 
by the police if ever he went back to Leipzig. The story he told 
was this : ‘There was a stnke of compositors going on, and the 
result was what is called a “kleine Belagerungszustand” 
[= minor state of siege], enforced by the Government I was 
arrested in the “Ton Halle” for makmg a speech m sympathy 
with the strikers. I was a firebrand in those days — ^about 1886. 
My fnends used to say I was more a German than the Germans 
themselves I was let off on parole. When I left, I pronused I 
would report to the police if ever I returned to Leipzig ’ 

The well-known philologst and Old English scholar Eduard 
Sievers ^ was Professor of Germamc Philology in Halle, not far 
distant from Leipzig. One day Joseph Wnght went to call on 
him in Halle : ‘I saw first a small son of his. The boy ran off mto 
the next room saying: “Vater, es 1st em Mann hier der unsere 
Familien-Sprache kann” [= here’s a man who knows our 
household language]! Sievers had married an Inshwoman, 
and they all talked English at home.’ These two stones were 
among the scanty notes Joseph Wnght dictated to me about his 
experiences in Leipzig, so I give them here. It is the letters to 
Professor Holthausen which throw the chief hght on this last 
part of his student life m Germany. 

Dr. Peter Giles, the Master of Emmanuel College, Cam- 

^ Eduard Sievers was previously Professor at the University of Tubingen. 
He went to Halle mlSSy, and m 189a to Leipzig 



96 GERMANY 

bridge, knew Joseph Wright about this time. He wrote m a 
letter to me (March i, 1930) : ‘It will be forty-three years next 
Jime smce I met him jfirst m Leipzig, when I was introduced 
to him after a lecture by Professor Leskien. We saw much of 
one another during the few weeks I was in Leipzig, and have 
kept in touch ever since. He did much good work and many 
kind acts of which the world knew nothing — ^not only m Oxford 
but long before. In Oxford, as you know better than I, he 
made language a hving subject of study. ... At Leipzig four of 
us dined together at the Baren Restaurant, Streitberg (died in 
’25), Michels (died in February ’29), and now J. W. ; and I alone 
am left ’ 

The photograph of this band of four who dined together 
stood framed m Joseph Wnght’s study as a memento of 
Leipzig days. 

Considering the amoimt of work he was domg for himself as 
a student, and the hours of teaching he necessarily did to gam 
money, it seems almost incredible that he should have found 
time for anything so arduous as writing philological books. He 
was, however, engaged on work of this kind before he left 
Germany. The actual books did not, in some cases, appear 
till much later, but there are constant references to the prepara- 
tion of them in his letters to Professor Holthausen. These 
letters are unfortunately few, and sometimes very far between, 
but they suffice to show clearly how from the very first his 
attitude towards learnmg was a dedication of himself, almost 
a rehgion. He studied laboriously with every ounce of his 
physical strength and all the force of his tremendous person- 
ality, to fit himself to be useful to the world, to produce what 
would advance knowledge, and inspire and help others to do 
hkevsrise When teaching his own branch of learning he was 
anxious to see his pupils become under his gmdance competent 
and eager to ‘propagate the subject further’, as he says in one 
of these letters. In another, writing of ‘our cause’, which he 
finds IS not being supported as he had hoped, he cheers his 
fnend with the words: ‘Never mind, we’ll fight, and we’ll 





LEIPZIG 


97 

conquer’. He had plenty of practical worldly wisdom, and had 
always sought to advance his own position, but as a means to 
an end, not as the end itself. He was conscious that he possessed 
exceptional abihties, that more talents had been given to him 
than to most men, therefore it behoved him to put them to the 
best possible use. He constantly upheld this gospel of Work, 
It is there, underlying even much that he wrote m his love- 
letters . ‘I mean to be happy all my life, and to do some useful 
work,’ he said m one them ; and in his last letter (Dec. 22, 1926) 
to Professor Holthausen are the words ‘You and I have great 
reason to be thankful that we had the good fortime to be trained 
in the midst of hard workers And our last days cannot be 
better spent than in helping on the present generation to the 
best of our abihty.’ It was always the progress of sound learn- 
ing that mattered, and when he as an individual worker had 
done all in his power for the ‘cause’, he could stand aside and 
see it earned on by the young, happy to rejoice with them in 
their youth, when his own strength was fading away. They 
were not empty words, for when he wrote them he had just 
finished a series of three Elementary Grammars, thus devotmg 
the results of a life-long experience as a teacher, and almost his 
last energies as a scholar, solely to the service of the young 
begmner. In a letter to me (Aug. 31, 1896) he wrote: ‘When 
I cease to work, I shall die off,’ and so it was. One of his pupils 
in Oxford wrote of him (Feb. 28, 1930) : ‘The ideal of unre- 
strained devotion to leammg which he bequeathed to us will 
never be forgotten, and as long as our efforts can last his task 
will hve.’ 

His first work for the press was the traiKlation of Brugmann’s 
Comparattve Grammar of the Indogermamc Languages already 
mentioned. It is, a large volume of 562 pages. In the ‘Trans- 
lator’s Preface’, which he dates from London, November 29, 
1887, he says : ‘When Prof. Brugmann and Mr. Tnibner pro- 
posed to me, two years ago, while I was still a student in 
Heidelberg, that I should translate the Grundnss . . • into 
Enghsh as soon as it appeared, I gladly accepted the proposal, 

o 



98 GERMANY 

in the hope that I should thus be rendering valuable service 
both to Enghsh and American students of philology, especially 
to the former who would otherwise very possibly, if they did 
not happen to know German, have to remain an indefinite 
length of time without being able to enter into a systematic and 
scientific study of languages, based on firm and rigid principles.’ 
It IS a stnking fact in the history of Joseph Wright’s scholarly 
achievements, that he was thus, withm sixteen years of the tune 
when he began to teach himself the three Rs, recognized by a 
foreign specialist as capable of translating a work which was to 
broadcast in England the newest theories in his own branch 
of scientific study. Professor Holthausen states in a testimonial 
which he wrote in 1901 that Joseph Wnght was one of the first 
to make the new methods of scientific philology known in 
England, by this translation of Brugmann. Whatever he under- 
took was conducted on business hues, so here he had a definite 
contract with the publisher, Karl Trubner in Strassburg. It 
is dated August 5, 1886. He thereby engaged himself to trans- 
late the work, and, when it was finished and pnnted, to read 
the proof-sheets not only of the first edition, but also of all 
possible subsequent editions. In the case of the latter, he 
boimd himself to incorporate corrections and additional 
material. In return for this he was to be paid an ‘honoranum’ 
of 30 marks per sheet for the first edition, and 10 marks per 
sheet for every subsequent edition. In December of the same 
year he signed another contract with the publishing firm of 
Julius Groos in Heidelberg, whereby he undertook to examme 
and revise all the educational books published by the firm 
de aling with the English, French, German, and Italian lan- 
guages. For this he was to be paid a yearly sum of 1,000 marks, 
in two half-yearly instalments, irrespective of,whether the firm 
supphed him with few or many books for correction during the 
year. Dr. Wolff, the present head of the firm, writing to me m 
March 1930 said [I translate the German] : ‘To me Professor 
Wnght was for so many decades a loyal, kind, and selfless 
counsellor m the affairs of my pubhshmg business , . . that I 



LEIPZIG 


99 

had in the last few years greatly missed having his opinion, and 
shall do so still more painfully in the future. With what pleasure 
have I often remembered seemg him here, so full of cheenness 
when he was free from work and official duties. I have particu- 
larly happy memones of the time when I stayed with you in 
your beautiful house m the autumn of 1907. The remembrance 
of him will never fade from my mind.’ Dr. Wolff very kindly 
supphed me later with a catalogue of the books which passed 
through Joseph Wnght’s hands durmg the years he was officially 
connected with the firm. In his second letter [which I here 
translate] he said: ‘Enclosed is a complete list of the works 
which your husband — ^partly alone, and partly with other 
collaborators — ^re-wrote, or revised. Besides this, he continu- 
ally recommended to me English contnbutors, and in most 
cases looked over their work, and ^ve an opimon on it. For 
more than forty years, he was my most faithful adviser in the 
extension of my pubhshmg business in everything connected 
with the English language. He also took just as lively an interest 
in all my other hnguistic and philological enterpnses, and on 
the occasions of his spnng visits here, he always knew how to 
make fresh suggestions ’ It appears from this catalogue that 
Joseph Wright revised the ‘7th Edition’ of a ‘First German 
Book’, pubhshed in 1886 ; that he was the author of an Elemen- 
tary French Grammar published in 1887; co-editor of a new 
edition of a Spanish Conversation Grammar also pubhshed in 
1887, and sole editor of new editions of three other Grammars 
which came out m 1888. I have quoted here only those works 
which come within the penod I am now considenng. In all, 
between 1886 and 1912 Joseph Wnght supervised the issue of 
twenty-nine books for the firm of Juhus Groos. 

Whilst still in^Leipzig he was also at work wntmg a Middle 
High German Primer. He says in December 1886 that it will 
be ready the following February. It was not published by the 
Clarendon Press till early in 1888. A second edition came out 
in 1899, and a third in 1917. In the Preface to the first edition, 
dated ‘London, January, 1888’, he refers to an Old High 



loo GERMANY 

German Primer ‘already in the hands of the printers,’ so it, too, 
may have heen begun in Germany. The Preface concludes 
with an expression of his desire to see lingmstic studies flourish 
and abound in this country: ‘I believe that the day is not very 
far distant when English students will take a much more lively 
interest in the study of their own and the other Germamc 
languages (especially German and Old Norse) than has hitherto 
been the case. And if this little book should contribute any- 
thing towards furthering the cause, it will amply have fulfilled 
its purpose.’ His Grammar of The Dialect of Wtndhtll was not 
published till 1893, but the letters to Professor Holthausen 
show that much of it was already in MS. by the autuirm of 
1886, and that the Dialect Society — ^for which it was written — 
was pressing him to complete it then and there. He fimshed 
wnting It in December. It is to this book that the first of the 
following letters refers : 

Dear Holthausen, Wtndhill. Sep 16, 86. 

I have decided to stay a few days longer here This week has 
been taken up in asking young, middle-aged and old people 
a hst of words which I made out last Saturday. Many of the 
points which were ‘dunkel’ are now clear. I shall find necessary 
to make out a list of all words contaimng medial r and medial 
and final 1 , k, r. These consonants have greater influence than 
I at first supposed. 

I will write agam before I leave for London, 

Yours, etc , J. Wright. 

The next letter extant is from Germany, and gives his first 
impressions of Leipzig and its Umversity. This is followed by 
further reports of his work there : 

Leipzig. Weststr. 66 p. Nov. 4, ’86. 

I received your post-card yesterday, and was sorry to learn 
that you had so few students attending your lectures. I daresay 
you will have begun to think that I have forgotten Heidelberg 
and my fnends there; but such is far from being the case. 
Since I have been here my time has been very hmited for letter 



LEIPZIG 


lOI 


wnting. I must say so far as I am at present able to judge, the 
town Leipzig itself pleases me far better than the lectures at the 
University. ... I heard Zamcke’s Deutsche Grammatik all last 
week byway of expenment. ... He speaks much about the Jung- 
grammatiker. He praised Osthoff and Brugmann himmel hoch 
[= up to the skies]. I have now been twice to his Seminar, and 
was highly delighted with his maimer of teaching. For a man 
of his 'age he possesses enormous energy and teaching power. 
I beheve in the course of time I shall learn much from him as 
to the manner a Seminar ought to be conducted. 

I have subscnbed my name to attend Kogel’s Historische 
Syntax By doing this I shall kill two birds with one stone 
namely learn German sjmtax and the Leipzig dialect. I have 
also entered for his Altnordische ubungen in which he seems 
to prefer quantity to quality. 

I am heanng Lithuaman Grammar with Leskien. He is, in 
my opimon, the great hght here. From him I shall learn a 
great deal both in method and matter Many of the other 
Professors work on the principle of parva in multo, but he 
makes it the other way about. 

All in all had it not been better for me to come here to suit 
English caprice, it would have been better to have gone to 
Freiburg. 

So far as social intercourse is concerned I am by no means 
lonely. I have been together with Leskien, von Bahder, and 
Scholvin several times. In fact Leskien has told me two or 
three times to call on him of an evemng when I had time 

Thumb, Dittmar, Michels, and Dr. Pete from Freiburg are 
all here. . . . 

The Dialect Society have been pressing me very hard to let 
them have the Grammar as soon as possible. It would be 
interesting to know who put that notice in the Academy. It is 
a pity because the work is far from being ready for the press. 
I hope by the end of November ‘to have knocked it into shape’. 

With kmdest regards. 


Yours, J. Wright. 



102 GERMANY 

Please remember me to Osthoff, the Frau Prof, and the 
children. 

Leipzig, Nov. 22, 1886. 

I have at last found time to thank you for the two pamphlets 
you sent me the other day. The one on Damsh will be very 
interesting. I shall read it during the Xmas holidays. I am so 
glad to learn that we shall probably hear something good about 
Osthoff in a few days. I am still devoting all my time to the 
dialect Grammar. I hope to have it ready for the printer in two 
or three weeks. It will be very much larger than I at first 
anticipated. I am so sorry to be unable to purchase the Anglia 
for you just now. The fact is I am at the present moment rather 
short of money, and shall be so until after Xmas when I shall 
get money from England. 

It is a good thing for me that Brugmann will be here next 
term, otherwise I should have left Leipzig at Easter I must 
say that I am on the whole not satisfied with the lectures here. 
Leskien is the only one who suits me on the whole. . . . How 
are you getting on with your lectures ^ Have you much time 
for other work? 

Good night, it is. . . My clock not going. 

Yours faithfully, J. Wright. 

Leipzig, Bee. 28, ’86. 

I was very pleased to hear from you by this evemng’s post 
Lambern succeeded all right in his examination, so that you 
can congratulate him, and kill two birds with one stone. I am 
sorry to hear you are so lonely and have little or no society. 
You know the Redensart about Haimibal and the Alps, if you 
were to substitute societyfor Alps, and apply the rule, you would 
very soon have society enough. Social intercourse is, ‘me 
judice’, as necessary for mortals as food and sleep. Let us hope 
we shall both see better days in this respect, though I have not 
much reason to complain of the people here, seeing that I am 
a stranger m Leipzig. I have made a nice Uttle circle of 
acquamtances which I visit from time to time by way of rehef 



LEIPZIG 


103 

from bookwork. My dialect grammar is fimshed except the 
Introduction, which I shall not write until the rest of the book 
has been pnnted. I should like you to see it before sending it 
to press, because you would be able to give me many hints, and 
make corrections. But I am afraid you can hardly find time 
to do me the kindness, seeing that your time is so much taken 
up with the other work The Dialect Society have written 
three times smce my coming to Leipzig asking me to let them 
have it as soon as possible. I wrote the other day saymg that 
they should have it m the course of next week. My translation 
of Brugmann’s Grundriss will take until about the end of 
March. I am devoting about two hours a day to it. 

My M H. German Pruner (contaimng grammar, texts, notes, 
and glossary) will be ready for the press at the end of February 
I am at present devoting as much time as possible to O. and 
M.H. German which will, probably, be of great use when I 
return to England. Judgmg from letters I have lately received 
from England there is every prospect of our both obtaining a 
post there eventually. I will contnve to see you during the 
Easter holidays if possible. 

With best wishes and compliments of the Season, 

Yours, etc 

Joe. 

Leipzig, Mar. ii, ’87. 
I was glad to hear from you again. I saw Brugmaim yester- 
day and gave him your corrections. The translation of his 
Gnmdnss swallows up a fnghtful amount of time. It will be 
impossible to have the whole of the MS. ready for the prmter’s 
hands before the end of May. I hope by the time I come to 
Heidelberg (about the 24th of this month) to have 21 or 22 
Bogen [= sheets] finished. The pnnting is to begin at the end 
of this month at the rate of two sheets a week, so that the whole 
will be fimshed some time in August. From what Brugmann 
tells me the correcting of the proof-sheets must be somethmg 
awful. He has, however, promised to give me some help at 



104 GERMANY 

first so as to facilitate my getting into this kind of homble 
drudgery. 

I was shocked at Kaufmann’s impudence and conceit when 
I read his review of your Soester Mundart. You will now be 
able to appreciate better the opinion I formed of him in 
Freiburg. You remember whom I said he reminded me of. 
Make it warm for him the first opportunity you have_ Such 
impudence cannot be passed over in silence. 

I had a long walk with Eduge last Sunday, during which we 
discussed all manner of things regarding my dialect Grammar. 
We were also together on Monday and Tuesday evenmgs along 
with Bahder. When do you leave Heidelberg for Soest, before 
or after my coming ? I should like to meet you dunng my stay. 
Will Karsten still be in Heidelberg ? Remember me to him. 

With kindest regards, 

Yours faithfully, 

J. Wright. 

Leipzig, Aug. 5, 1887. 

I have at last found time to answer your most welcome and 
agreeable letter. ... I am so hard pressed with work at the 
present moment that it is quite impossible for me to leave here 
for Heidelberg until Thursday at the earliest, by that time I 
expect you will have already left for England. I shall in any 
case see you in England sometime m September or October. 
I am quite undecided whether I shall qualify myself in Heidel- 
berg (but I may venture to say that it is highly improbable). 

My prospects both in England and America (just fancy) are 
at the present moment too good not to give them very serious 
consideration. Circumstances have arisen which will prevent 
my being able to pubhsh my dialect grammar until the end of 
the year. I dare say you will already have heard that I am 
Mitarbeiter of the Grundnss der germamschen Philologie and 
this work will swallow up a certam amount of time. 

12 Bogen of my translation of Brugmann’s Grundnss are 
now pnnted. The reading of the proofsheets (which I am 



LEIPZIG los 

doing entirely alone) takes up a fearful amount of time. I 
expect the whole will not be finished until October The 
ridiculously long holiday I took at Easter has ruined all chance 
of my having any hohday this summer. 

With best wishes for your future success in Halle. 

Yours faithfully, 

J. Wright. 

The next letter is from his home in Yorkshire ; 

Wtndhtll, Yorkshire. Oct. 6, 1887 

After receiving your postcard from Devonshire, I mtended 
to meet you in London on my way home, circumstances 
turned up however which necessitated my travelling via 
Hamburg-Hull. I trust I shall come to London before you 
return to Germany in order that we may have a pleasant chat 
together. I leave here at the end of the week. How long shall 
you be staying in town? Should you leave before I come, let 
me have your Halle address No doubt your new sphere will 
be far more congenial than the last. . . . Osthoff seems quite 
dejected at havmg nobody in Heidelberg. After careful con- 
sideration It would not be wise for me to entertain the idea of 
qualifying myself for English in H at present as my plans in 
England have not yet had enough time to mature. But more 
about these and other things when I see you. 

Yours very faithfully, 

J. Wright. 

It is evident from the last two letters that some months before 
the end of 1887 he was considering plans for settling down 
permanently in England the following year. Joseph Wright 
never waited for^things to ‘turn up’ , he first decided in his own 
mind what he wanted, and then he took steps to make it ‘turn 
up’ accordmg to plan. He wrote and spoke of ‘six years in 
Germany’, but as far as I can tell now, this must be a redconing 
by Semesters. The ‘Legitimations Karte’ of October 1886 
states that it holds good till February i, 1888, but by that time 

p 



io6 GERMANY 

he was living in London. He probably left Leipzig in Septem- 
ber 1887. There are no letters of this series belonging to the 
winter of 1887-8, for during part of that time Professor Holt- 
hausen was also in London, and the two friends were together. 
Joseph Wright to the last was proud of his trainmg in Germany, 
and kept up his interest m German Umversities and in the 
careers of his old friends as they moved from one Umversity 
to another m response to ‘calls’. He watched, too, the rise 
of the yoimger scholars in his own subjects, and wondered 
whether they would ever ‘become so devoted to hard work 
as the former generation’. 

I cannot remember hearmg him use translated German 
idiom such as: ‘I have been together with Leskien,’ ‘Are you 
reading [1 e. lectunng] this term ?’ — ^phrases which occur several 
times in the foregoing letters — ^but there were certain expres- 
sions in German which became household words If he was 
about to ring the bell at meal-times it was always: ‘Shall I 
schellV and he would constantly say ‘Auf der Dauer’ for ‘m the 
long run’, ‘Frisch vom Fass’ when speaking of anything brand- 
new, and ‘punkt’ instead of ‘punctually’. When he had worked 
out some difficult philological problem in the course of writing 
a Grammar, he would put down his pencil and say ‘Well, 
that was a “schwere Geburt”, but it ’s fimshed now.’ He often 
astomshed German visitors by his detailed and accurate know- 
ledge of the various kmds of Munich beer, all of which he had 
sampled at one time or another during his sojourn in the 
‘Fatherland’. 



CHAPTER THREE 


EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

J OSEPH WRIGHT’S connexion with Oxford began early 
in 1888 He was then — as we have seen — hvmg in London. 
At first he went up from London one or two days a week, but 
before long he had so much teaching to do in Oxford that it 
was necessary to be on the spot. I caimot now discover whether 
or no he remamed in London throughout the Hilary Term of 
1888. By the Summer Term he was certainly living in Oxford. 
According to his dictated notes, dunng that wmter of 1887-8 
spent m London, he lodged with a Mr and Mrs. Bawden. The 
former ‘was a man employed by Pickford’s, and lived m Chapel 
Street, off the Edgware Road, near Paddington station’.' He 
evidently chenshed the recollection of his lodger, for nearly 
forty years later when Joseph Wnght retired from his Profes- 
sorship, he received a letter wntten ‘at the express wish of 
Mr. Bawden who is unable to write himself for he has been 
bedndden for nearly a year’. The writer goes on to say . ‘I saw 
your portrait and the interesting account of your career in the 
Daily Mail of Jan 37th, and Mr B. was very interested and 
delighted and asked me to tell you how pleased he was and also 
to wish you a peaceful and happy retirement.’ In January of 
this year — 1931 — z certain Mr. John Smith Hodgson of Brad- 
ford, on the occasion of his eighty-eighth birthday, told an 
interviewer 2 that he was a native of Windhill, and that ‘when 
a boy he worked at the mill alongside Professor Wright’. 
When questioned further by a friend of ours, Mr. Hodgson 
said they had met again in London. At that time Mr Hodgson 
was agent for the Prudential Life Assurance Company and 
had a district near Edgware Road. He took a pnde in recalling 

^ A ‘Bier Karte’ from Leipzig, December i, 1887, signed by some of his 
‘Jiinggrammatiker’ fnends — ^Michels, Streitberg, Dittmar, and others — ^is 
addressed ‘57 Hall Place, Hall Park, Paddington*. 

^ Yorkshire Evening Post, January 16, 1931. 



io8 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

that he and Joseph Wright used to spend time together on 
Stindays. Beyond these scraps I have no further records of 
Joseph Wnght’s sojourn in London, and we now come to the 
beginnings of his Oxford life. 

In his dictated notes he says: ‘I had brought with me from 
Germany a letter of introduction to Max Muller,’' and I had 
been to see him in Oxford. There was a place vacant on the 
Staff of the A E.W.^ for German and English Language, and 
he recommended me to Mrs. Johnson, and I went to see her 
in London by appointment Max Muller did push me a good 
deal when I first came to Oxford, and it was due to him that 
I came at all. Mrs Johnson promised me the post. There was 
no salary, I was only to be paid by the hour, so much for a 
lecture, or a class, and no fixed number of hours. Mrs. Johnson 
wanted me to coach Pass students for less than Honours 
students, but I said one hour of my time was as valuable as 
another. All the teaching for the women was under the control 
of Mrs. Johnson. She had a great deal more to do with the 
organization of women’s education than she got credit for m 
modern times.’ The Women’s Colleges at that date were still 
only boarding-houses It was Mrs. Johnson, as Secretary to 
the A E.W.,3 who arranged all the students’ work, collected the 
fees according to the lectures and classes attended by each 
student, and supervised a system of reports. 

The notes continue: ‘At first I was engaged to teach Old 
High German, German Composition, and History of the Ger- 
man Language. After about a term or so I was further 

* Professor of Comparative Philology at Oxford ‘The foundation for him in 
1868 of the Chair of Comparative Philology by the University was a tribute to 
his effectiveness as a teacher, and a recogmtion of the importance of the subject ’ 
The School of English Language and Literature^ by C H. Firth, M A , Regius 
Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford (1909), p, zz For 
further biographical details vide The Life and Letters of the Right Honourable 
Fnednch Max MUller, edited by his wife Longmans, Green Sc Co , 190a 

^ Association for the Higher Education of Women in Oxford 

3 A privately prmted book entitled The Society of Oxford Home Students 
Retrospects and Recollections^ edited by R F Butler and M H Prichard (1930), 
contams (pp 29-104) a full account of ‘Mrs Johnson and her Work", with three 
portraits 



APPOINTMENTS 


109 

engaged to do English Language, and that was a more paying 
job I took a Class on Old English Grammar and Sweet’s 
Reader. I had all the women doing the subject from the vanous 
Women’s Colleges ’ He actually began this English Language 
teaching in the Michaelmas Term of 1888, and he went on 
with It, and the German work, till he was elected to the Deputy- 
Professorship in 1891. He also continued to teach Gothic and 
Old High German for the A.E.W till 1891. 

At Easter, 1888, he was appointed by the Curators of the 
Taylonan Institution Deputy-Teacher of German His sub- 
sequent devotion to the welfare and work of this Institution 
as the centre of the study and teaching of Modem Languages 
in Oxford forms a history in itself, and lends importance to the 
record of this first step. Here again he attributed the chance of 
this new opening to the help of a friend: ‘MacdonelD was a 
very good friend to me — he lent me ;^io to help me in my first 
term. He had got leave to be off for one year to do a Sansknt 
Dictionary for Longmans, and I became Deputy to him The 
Curators paid me £150* From the next letters to Professor 
Holthausen it appears that the appointment was first of all for 
one term, and then he became a candidate for the post for a 
further penod of one year He thus held it for a year and a 
term. The two following letters show how hard he had to work 
to keep pace with his new duties . 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford. June i, i888. 

I am sorry not to have been able to answer your interesting 
letter sooner, but the fact is that I am so overpowered with work 
that I can’t even find the time to go for a walk on a Sunday. 
The amount of work which has fallen to my lot this term was 
beyond all hopes or expectations. I have 21 hours’ work a 
week and you will easily conjecture that some of these hours’ 
work involves much preparation. In fact I have not been able 
to touch a book this term which is not directly connected with 
my lectures and lessons. I have already founded a little society 

^ A A Macdonell, Professor of Sanskrit at Oidbrd. 



no EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

here for the scientific study of the Germanic languages, there 
are only 7 members at present but I regard it as a good begm- 
mng for a place like Oxford I am also deputy Taylonan teacher 
of German for this term. In fact I am working all in all some- 
thing hke 80 hours a week. 

The Delegates of the Press here have dechned for the present 
an O. Saxon primer, as also my Gothic primer. They say they 
would like to see first how the M.H G and O.H G. primers 
go before undertaking others 

Those, whom I thought would help and further our cause 
in Oxford, are turmng out to be the preventers of it. Tut not 
your trust in men or pnnces’ is an old but true remark. Never 
mind, we’ll fight and we’ll conquer. I will write you all par- 
ticulars of my mode of operation and my plans of campaign 
as soon as the term’s work is over, which will be on the 14th. 
Are you properly settled down in Gottingen now? Are 
you reading^ this term? What are you reading? Be careful 
to read if possible something bearing on Mod. English, this 
will be of great use when the time comes. But more of this 
later on. 

Macdonell wished to have a deputy appointed for one year 
until he gets his Sanskrit dictionary ofiF his hands. He handed 
It over to me this term with the penmssion of the Curators. 
They have now issued a notice that they will appoint at the 
end of next week a deputy for one year. I am gomg m for this, 
there is little to do for it. I should be so glad if you would 
kindly give me as good a testimomal (with your officud signa- 
ture — ^Docent an der Umv. Gottingen) as you can and let me 
have It as soon as possible. I should like you to attach special 
importance to the following : 

(1) That I have studied and know somethmg about Phonetics. 

(2) How long you have known me intimately. 

(3) That through my long residence in Germany I have ac- 

quired a thorough knowledge of Modem German. 

* This IS a literal translation of the German use of the word, and means 
‘lecturmg’* 



APPOINTMENTS 


III 


(4) That I know the older penods of the language 

N B. Great importance will be attached to (3) 

A longer letter shall follow as soon as term’s work is over 

Yours ever, 

J Wright 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford. June 21, 1888. 

The term’s work is at last at an end and I am heartily glad 
of It As I already told you m my last letter I have not been 
able to take a walk for weeks until the last few days The next 
term’s work will not be so hard, because I shall not be reading 
German literature at all. 

I hope you continue to like Gottmgen and find the work 
congemal. It would be a great treat for me to come to Germany 
this summer, but I cannot afford the time Now that the 
Delegates have declmed for the present my Gothic primer I 
wish to devote the whole of the holidays (four months) to 
collecting matenal for my long cherished German grammar, 
which the Delegates have promised to publish. I hope to have 
It ready for publication in about a year Have you begun your 
English grammar ? 

I have announced O.H.G grammar for next term (gratis). 
Five men have already expressed a wish to attend these lec- 
tures. I am hoping with my energy and practical teachmg 
abihty to be able to do somethmg here in time, though it will 
be rather slow imtil we get a ‘School’ m which men can take 
the subject up for their examination. The question of estab- 
hshmg a School will be brought up agam this next term and 
it is expected to be earned. The scheme is now much less 
ambitious than it was. Prof. Napier will, I know, do everything 
m his power to get the thing earned. 

My appointment to the Taylonan teachership of German 
will now give the means to purchase a good library. The 
election took place last week 

This work is ridiculously elementary, if one sticks to the bare 
requirements of the ‘Statutes’, viz. to give practical instruction 



II2 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

in German. I shall give the practical instruction, but shall also 
read O.H.G, etc. (gratis). In this way I may be able to win 
over a few men to the cause. 

I will write again soon. Yours very faithfully, 

J Wright. 

Three more letters to Professor Holthausen belong to this 
year, and a fourth to the Christmas vacation of 1888-9: 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford. July 30, 1888. 

I am very pleased to hear that your lectures on Phonetics 
are such a success m Gottmgen. By this post you will receive 
a copy of Dowden’s Shakspere-pnmer, it is useless to send you 
a copy of the O.H.G. primer at present unless I definitely hear 
that you will not be coming to England this summer. I had 
already read the review of Kluge’s book in the G G. Anz and 
need not say how pleased I was with it Had I been a German 
I would have attacked the book from a ‘purely religious point 
of view’. The book uoent down with the people so well, (i) 
because it was a kind of slur (how unjust') on the Roman 
Catholics, and (a) because it was puffed up by the Lobes- 
versicherungsgesellschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit ^ (This is a jaw- 
cracker, mcht wahr!) I like Kluge’s Ags. reader immensely. 
I have just ordered Schwan’s O.Fr. grammar. Thanks for 
drawing my attention to it. 

As to whether Osthoff has any special reason for not doing 
anything towards getting you back to Heidelberg, I know not. 
Nor had I heard that they were about to appoint a professor of 
English just now. If such is however the case — ^unter uns 
gesagt — I beheve Lenz will be the man. Osthoff spoke about 
It when he was here. Have you heard who the candidates are ? 
I am curious to learn. 

I have just had another little appointment conferred upon 
me here m addition to the Taylonan. Five of my /iZ£?y-students 

^ A phrase of J. W ’s own coming for ‘mutual admiration society’ He 
also expressed it in another way, viz ‘Gegensextigehandwascherungsgesell- 
schaft’ 



APPOINTMENTS 113 

went in for the honours examination in June Three got Firsts 
and two got Seconds. I am hoping there will be a greater 
number this next year They are all such good and willing 
workers and the result of the examination is a proof that they 
have not worked in vain 

I am working patiently at the historical H German grammar. 
The modem development of the vowel system will cost much 
more time than I at first expected. Paul’s article in the Beitrage 
by no means solves the problem. There are many difficulties 
which he has left untouched. The only thing will be to do what 
I am doing just now to read through a lot of XV, XVI, and 
XVII century monuments. 

How thankful and pleased I am to be in a position to pur- 
chase the necessary toolsl Since commg to Oxford I have spent 
^60 m books, and intend to buy such a lot more this wmter. 
Herein lies one of the great secrets, as we have both often said, 
whether a man does good or bad (shall I say?) work after he 
has once learnt how to work If you see or hear of any books 
which will be useful for my grammar I should be so thankful 
if you would drop me a line I am determmed to make a man 
hook of It, and I am prepared to spend any amoimt of time and 
labour upon it 

I should of course be very pleased to see you m England 
this summer The only safe and good programme for me to 
follow these hohdays is — ^to go home next Fnday for 8-10 days 
and take a httle rest, then to return to Oxford and work like a 
n^er until the imddle of October. If you do decide to come 
to England, I would contrive to go and spend say 8-10 days at 
some cheap sea-side place. Where would you like to go? 
When do you think you will be able to come ? Would you care 
to spend part of jhe time here, if so I could get you very cheap 
lodgmgs (much less than you paid before and more comfort- 
able)? Living IS not so dear here, you were greatly over- 
charged. The rooms I have are m a better house and are 
infinitely more convenient, better furnished and larger than 
yours were. My bill never exceeds 35/- includmg rooms, 

Q 



II4 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

board, washing and light. This arises because I kept a sharp 
eye upon the people at first and know the price of everything 
in the way of eatables 

Let me hear from you very soon I leave here, wie gesagt, 
about Friday for Wmdhill, Shipley, Yorks 

With best wishes. 
Yours, etc. 

J. Wright. 

i6 Kingston Road, Oxford Oct. 9, 1888 

You will doubtless think it queer that you have not heard 
from me sooner, but the fact of the matter is that I have had 
no news 

Lenz is m England (London) He came down to Oxford the 
other week and stayed with me a few days. He intends to 
qualify himself for English in Heidelberg He will probably 
also have a place in the Gymnasium m H. 

Logermann is here just now and intends to stay 4 weeks. 
He came in to see me this afternoon. . . . 

How pleased I was to learn that Kogel got the place in Basel! 
He is such a good teacher and takes no end of trouble with his 
serious pupils. 

I am lookmg forward with interest to the appearance of the 
grammar to Vices and Virtues as also to your Mod Engl, 
grammar. I have not heard from Osthoff for some weeks. 
Sometime ago Cornelia fell from the bedroom window and 
broke both arms I was so sorry to hear of it. 

My lectures begin next week. I have spent all the summer 
working at my historical German grammar. The work will 
take me quite another year. I will send you a copy of the 
O.H.G. pnmer in a day or two. I don’t happen to have a copy, 
but can easily get one. 

I intend to come to Germany next Easter holidays and if 
possible go to Iceland next summer for three months m order 
to learn the Modem phases of the language. Or else I shall 
stay here at Easter and go to Germany in summer. 



APPOINTMENTS 115 

When will Heme’s dictionary appear '* 

By the way, Logemann is to wnte a review of Sweet’s book 
for the Academy. Has the book been reviewed in Germany? 
I have not seen one in any of the German papers 

yours very faithfully, 

J Wright 

P.S I* received 8 sheets of Paul’s Grundnss d Germ phil the 
other day. 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford Dec 18, 1888. 
Although I was very pleased to hear from you the other 
week, I was so sorry to learn that things are not going with you 
in Gottingen as you imght fairly and justly wish. . Had I 
known . I should have proposed you as a candidate for the 
professorship at Bedford College, London It was offered me 
but I was not in a position to accept it owing to my work here 
It has been given to an old pupil of Napier’s. The salary was 
not much, nor the work either (;£ioo-i20 for 4 hours a week 
dunng term-time.) . . 

I am much obliged for the books you mentioned in your 
letter, I had them already. 

Are you quite sure that the writing of various reviews and 
small contributions to text-cntic will help you much m the 
future ? I myself doubt it very much 
There is, as I have often told you, an opemng for Teutomc 
philology in England. If anything should turn up here I 
should do anything I possibly could to have you here 

My German grammar gets on slowly. I hope to do some- 
thing at It these holidays . . . 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford Jan. 17, 1889, Prosit Neujahr! 
You will perhaps be shocked to learn in reply to your query 
about the progress of my dialect grammar that I have not 
touched it smce I left Leipzig It is a pity, but it cannot be 
helped, for at present I have other ‘oats to thrash’, to use 
a familiar Yorkshire expression In previous letters t have 



ii6 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

already told you how many ‘irons I have in the fire’, and 
the histoncal German grammar in particular will still take me 
a long time. This work has thoroughly convinced me how 
necessary it is in describing the history of a language to have 
read an enormous amoimt of literature besides the mere know- 
ing of Grammars and dictionaries. Whenever the book is 
fimshed it will at least be bigger than Sweet’s History of English 
Sounds. Although the Gothic primer is almost finished I shall 
not think of publishmg it until I have got some other things 
off my hands. As soon as I get a little time I shall send either 
to the Phonetische Studien or Modern Language Notes an 
article showing that the diphthongization of i>ij, u>uw; 
e>ej ; and 6>ow and several other points are not so Modem 
as Sweet and others are wont to assume. Chance has thrown 
in my way a work on the Analysis of Enghsh Sounds which has 
not only surprised Skeat, Napier, Murray, etc but others. I 
always thought that these sound changes had taken place 
within the living memory of man. By the way, the distinction 
between dialect fu and Standard English jd goes back at least 
to the beginmng of last century (I mean in such words as new, 
dew, etc.) The same work contains some most valuable dialect 
information. 

Wahrhch' 

Wie die alten sungen, so zwitschen die jungen. 

My interest in dialect work will never die, the only thmg is 
that I must have my ‘cake’ ^ ensured before launchmg out with 
‘might and mam’ into the luxurious work If ever the day 
comes that I have supphed the English public with the matenal 
I hope to furnish it with in Germamc studies, and if in the 
meantime I have got something in England permanent and 
worth having, I shall settle down to do nothmg else but dialect 
work. In fact I shall edit the projected Dialect Dictionary. 
Matenal was sent to me some time ago to make a speamen 
page for the Pitt Press, Cambridge, in order that these ‘good 

* In Yorkshire cake means bread 



APPOINTMENTS 117 

people’ may get an idea of what the Diet will look like when the 
pnntmgof the work begins, which will not be forsome years yet 

Gott sei Dank! the care and trouble I gave myself here is 
begiiming to make itself felt among the students I have had 
a good lot of appheations to attend my lectures this next term 
which does not begm until next week. I have still far more 
women than men, though at the Taylonan I had 13 men last 
term and hope to have more this next term. I had 10 women 
students who attended a course of 24 lectures on OE. last 
term and they worked fearfully hard Most of them simply 
cleared the papers I set them on the subject at the Xmas 
Examination I set them elementary questions, as you will see, 
yet they gave me proof that they had mastered the pomts which 
are necessary for a beginner to know. The women students in 
O. and M.H G. are also very good workers and most of them 
will by the time they leave the University have gamed a rather 
good knowledge of German in all its stages It might interest 
you to see the kind of questions they can answer The thing 
which ‘bothers’ me most is that they are not men and therefore 
I have no direct proof that they will propagate the subject 
further when they leave here. 

I lecture on M.H G Grammar, and Lessmg (Laokoon) this 
next term, and on the second half of the Nibelimgenlied to the 
women. Besides these I shall have two or three small classes 
m Teutomc Grammar. I have three weeks ago been appointed 
to examme for what is here called the ‘Oxford University Local 
Examination’. This will take about 20 days of my tune up in 
summer, as there will be about 1200 papers to look over. . . . 

I still think and shall always think that V. and V. {Virtues 
and Vices] will not help you half so much as the English 
Grammar Avoid ' Klarngkeiten' for Zeitschriften for the 
present. I coul 4 , if necessary, give you good proof that such 
thmgs rather harm you than do you good. You might say, but 
what reason have you to ‘preach’ ? Well, I simply talk as a near 
friend, and you must consider that here the field is empty and 
that m Germany it is not only full but overcrowded. 



n8 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

When shall you come to England ? On this depends whether 
I shall come to Germany at Easter or at Midsummer. 

Yours ever, 

J Wright. 

From 1888 to 1891 Joseph Wright was living in lodgings at 
No. 16 Kingston Road, the continuation of Walton Street. 
No. 16 is close to where the street changes its name. He often 
boasted of how well and cheaply he lived in those first years 
in Oxford, when his mcome was very small, and when out of it 
he was saving every penny he could for the future. The notes 
describe his expenditure T had two good rooms for 15/- per 
week, and nothing to pay in my absence, though the rooms 
were kept for me For my food I paid so much a day meat , 
bread id , butter xd , milk xd , &c. My whole bill for the week 
— ^mcluding fire, hght, laundry — ^never amoimted to more than 
25/-.’ In the letter of July 30 quoted above, he puts down his 
successful management to his ‘sharp eye’, ^d up-to-date 
knowledge of food prices. 

In addition to his work for the A E.W., and for the Taylonan 
Institution, he had many pupils from other sources. ‘In 1889’, 
he says, ‘I went up from Oxford twice a week to teach German 
for Wrenn and Gurney, to army men — ^about 4 or 5 hours 
a week.’ This was pure ‘cram’ work, but he did it systemati- 
cally. He has told me that he made a mmute and scientific 
study of the questions set for the examinations, so that he could 
ensure the success of his pupils. He even worked out mathe- 
matically the chances that the pieces set for translation would 
be taken by the exaimner from the right hand page of the set 
book. ‘I did not do this for long,’ he says, ‘it occupied too 
much time going up to London two days a week, when I had 
so much coachmg in Oxford.’ 

Amongst his early friends m Oxford was Professor Arthur 
Napier,^ and through him Joseph Wright obtained an mtroduc- 

^ Merton Professor of English Language and Literature This Professorship 
was founded by the University of Oxford in i 885 > and Mr Napier was the first 
Professor elected. 



APPOINTMENTS 119 

tion to Sir William Markby, the Reader in Indian Law. The 
result of this was that Sir William Markby sent him students 
to be coached in German for the Indian Civil Service. From 
time to time he had private pupils not working for any Um- 
versity exammations T read German’, he says, ‘with Dr Paget 
when he was Dean of Christ Church, every Saturday afternoon. 
Sometimes we went for a walk, and had conversation mstead 
of reading. He wanted it for readmg German theological 
books.’ Dr. Paget became Dean of Christ Church in 1892, so 
this note belongs to a later date, but I include it with the other 
records of his early teaching. 

In 1889 Miss Soulsby, the Head Mistress of the Oxford 
High School for Girls, engaged him to teach German twice 
a week to the Vlth Form. He gave up this appointment m 
1891 , but I have been fortunate enough to find in Miss Mildred 
Vemon-Harcourt a pupil of his during that time, who has sent 
me her remimscences : ‘I worked under Dr. Wright for two 
years He was a most stimulating and delightful teacher who 
always insisted on a very high standard of accuracy, and yet 
was never dull or dry I remember that in my second year we 
used to bnng copies of Silas Marner into class with us and 
translate straight mto German viva voce. Dr Wnght cnticizmg 
and guidmg and making it all seem adventurous and mterestmg 
I have only met one teacher at all comparable to him at this, 
and that was Dr. Postgate who used to conduct a Latm Prose 
class at Girton on the same plan 

‘At first I think Dr, Wright found it strange teachmg girls, 
and used to pretend to be gruff, but we saw through that, and 
were all convinced that he cared very much about us and our 
progress, indeed with the vanity of youth we thought he liked 
us and was prou^i of us, because it got about that when he was 
not quite pleased with his class at Somerville he would tell 
them how much better we were! If he was not pleased with 
us he would say “I wish you were boys — ^then I should know 
how to deal with you”, which amused us very much . . My 
twin and I left school m 1891 ; we both got “distinction” in 



120 


EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

German in the Joint Board Higher Certificate. Dr Wnght 
took such an interest in us that he went to my Father to try 
to persuade him to keep us in Oxford and let us go on studymg 
under himself, but we were sent to Girton, havmg won scholar- 
ships there owing almost entirely to the wonderful teaching we 
had had from Dr. Wnght, and m a rather different style from 
M. Henn Bu6 . We liked him [Dr. Wright] and admired him , 
he was a person one would never have dreamt of doing an37thing 
short of one’s best for ’ 

To add to his income in these early Oxford years, he also 
undertook a good deal of work correcting examination papers 
He acted as examiner for scholarships and exhibitions awarded 
by the Lancashire Coimty Coimcil from about this time on- 
wards till 1904 The Director of Education wntes (May 12, 
1931) ‘He took a very proimnent part in the decisions regard- 
ing the award of the scholarships and exhibitions for pro- 
ficiency in Commerce, Science, and Agriculture, which were 
awarded dunng those years.’ In the letter to Professor Holt- 
hausen dated Jan. 17, 1889, Joseph Wnght says he is expecting 
‘about laoo papers to look over’ for the Oxford University 
Local Examinations ; and in 1890, in a letter to me, he mentions 
having spent ten days over ‘the German Local Examination 
papers’. He used to tell me, when speakmg of this drudgery, 
that he often did not put on his boots for a fortnight at a 
time. 

A close fnend of his. Dr. Moritz Wmtermtz of Prague, sent 
me in 1928 some notes for this Biography describmg what he 
remembered of his intercourse with Joseph Wnght durmg the 
time he himself was in Oxford — 1888 to 1898. Most of these 
notes concern the great enterprise of the Dialect Dictionary. 
I quote here only the first paragraph (he wntes in English): 
‘I came to Oxford m the year 1888, a little after your husband 
had come there, and I have known him almost from the very 
first day of my amval at Oxford. We used then to meet almost 
every day, and to spend our evenings together, talking and 
readmg (both Enghsh and German books), and discussmg both 



APPOINTMENTS 121 

philological and personal matters On Sundays we often took 
long walks together through the beautiful meadows in the 
neighbourhood of Oxford. It was a time of hard struggle for 
W. dunng his first years at Oxford, before he got the Pro- 
fessorship of Comparative Philology in 1891 He had to do a 
lot of unpleasant drudgery work — such as going through hun- 
dreds of Local Examination papers (I remember this work, 
which later I had to do myself, with a shudder.) Yet as a rule 
his good humour hardly ever left him “The Dictionary”, of 
course, occupied a prominent place in our talks ’ 

In December 1890 he was appomted exaimner in the 
Germamc Section of the Medieval and Modern Languages 
Tnpos at Cambndge, an appointment which lasted till 1892. 

In June of this same year — 1890 — ^he had been given a fresh 
appointment by the Curators of the Taylonan Institution: a 
lectureship m Teutonic Philology. The subjects he chose for 
the first term were Gothic, Middle High German Lyncal 
Poetry, and Histoncal German Grammar He says in his 
dictated notes • ‘The post was created for me — at £ 2 ^ a term, 
for three hours a week. It gave me the first real start in hfe, and 
that was the reason of my long devotion to the Taylor My 
election was chiefly due to Professor Napier and Dr. Neubauer 
neither of them was a Curator, but they had fnends among the 
Curators. I only held this lectureslup for a term or two, 
because I became Deputy-Professor of Comparative Philology, 
and so I gave up the Taylonan lectureship, since Old Germanic 
languages could fairly be considered to come within my sub- 
ject. Professor Sayce who held the chair, resigned. His father 
had died, and he came m for a great deal of money.’ Professor 
Sayce had been Deputy under Max Muller smce 1876, and he 
resigned in 1891. In February Joseph Wnght was appointed 

^ Dr Adoif Neubauer, Sub-Librarian of the Bodleian Library, and Reader in 
Rabbinical Literature *Adolf Neubauer, Ph D of Leipzig, who had long been 
engaged in the Oriental Department of the Library was nominated by Mr Coxe 
as Sub-Libranan m 1873, and his nomination was approved by Convocation 
on Oct 30, 1873 ’ Macray, Annals of the Bodletcm, p 387 The centenary of 
Dr Neubauer’s birth was commemorated in Oxford in 1931* 

R 



122 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

to the Deputy-Professorship. In the following June he was 
made an Honorary M.A. of Oxford University; the Public 
Orator^ introducing him said, , . . ‘vir doctissimus Joseph 
Wnght Philologiae Comparativae professor deputatus in hac 
Academia nuper est electus. Ciuus qmdem htterarum accura- 
tam cognitionem testantur non solum nostrates, verum etiam 
eruditissimi in Germama doctores, quorum praelectiones quum 
diu diligentissime audivisset, m eisdem ipse studiis summum 
laudem consecutus est 

‘Mihi qmdem horum insigmum virorum tabellas commen- 
daticias perlegenti persuasissimum est Professorum nostrum in 
omnibus qmbus operam impendent rebus strenuum Britanno- 
rum ingemum cum argutiore Teutonum subtihtate comunxisse, 
nec minore successu doctrmam ahis impertin quam sibi ipsi 
parere consuevisse . His fnends in Germany wrote en- 
thusiastic congratulations on his appointment to the Deputy- 
Professorship. A card from Professor Brugmann in Leipzig 
says (in German): ‘g.2.91. Dear Herr College, I am dehghted 
to be able to congratulate you on your well-earned success’; 
another similar greeting is from Professor Paul in Freiburg 
Streitberg — ^now also a Professor — ^wrote from Fribourg: 
‘2411,91. My dear Professor, First of all my heartiest con- 
gratulations on your appomtment. You can imagine how 
very much pleased I was to hear this news. It is to be hoped 
that the colleague m the little Swiss provincial town will still 
contmue to find favour m your eyes?! I am also very glad to 
know that I shall see you m the summer. . . 

Joseph Wnght was wont to affirm, when most of his life was 
behmd him, that ‘Oxford is the most cosmopohtan Umversity 
m the world. A man can make his way at Oxford if he has the 
will ; it does not depend upon birth or social status, but work.’ 
Undoubtedly he verified his own maxim, for he put a pro- 
digious amount of work into the making of his own way. He 
often said of himself that he was by nature ‘a sociable animal’, 

^ The Rev W W Merry, D D , Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford. Quoted 
from autograph MS of speech delivered June 12, 1891. 



THE DEPUTY-PROFESSORSHIP 123 

but he never let ‘society’ hinder work He would say — ^when 
talking of these first years in Oxford* ‘You had to sacnfice 
what are called “pleasant evenings” I never dined in College , 
too much Common Room life leads to a waste of time ’ Even 
in later days he would seldom give up an evenmg’s work for 
some social entertainment The story of an invitation to Pro- 
fessor Max Muller’s is among the notes Joseph Wright dictated 
to me, so I give it m his own words * ‘Max Muller asked me to 
meet M. Havet, a very distinguished Frenchman and Latm 
scholar, one evening at his house When William (his servmg 
man) wanted to show me into the drawmg-room, I heard 
laughing and voices, and I asked to be shown mto the study. 
Then Max Muller came in, and I said to him “You seem to 
have a party?” He said “Yes”, so I said, “Then I won’t come 
m, I thought I had come to see M Havet” And so I went 
away Professor Morfill often told the story Several had been 
mvited, amongst them Professor Morfill, and he told it m 
Common Rooms, because of what he called my “cheek” It 
was very common then to ask people to come m after dinner, 
and he had been let in for this, and had not dared to 
declme.’ 

Tradition says that, while Joseph Wnght went on living m 
lodgings in the Kingston Road, he hankered for a house of his 
own, but thought this could not be accomphshed without a 
wife, till some kmd friend suggested to him that he could 
engage a housekeeper I do not myself credit this tale, as 
Joseph Wnght was far too practical-mmded to need such 
simple advice from outside However, the story is still current. 
It was m the summer of 1891 that he took on lease No. 6 
Norham Road, a small semi-detached house, with a larger 
garden than that of most of the houses in the street He spared 
no pams or money in procurmg solid, well-made furniture for 
It. Secretly he was preparmg a well-equipped home to which 
he would some day brmg the wife of his choice, but as a York- 
shireman he was instinctively ‘house-proud’, and nothmg 
short of the best would have pleased him were he to hve for 



124 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

ever a bachelor. By the October Term of 1891 his furnishing 
was complete, and he had found the ideal housekeeper to look 
after him and his new home. His brother Dufton said of her 
‘Ahr Joo3 wor vara lucky to leet on ’er. Sarah wod cut a cum 
[= currant] a-twoT She ran the house, and did all the work 
in the garden as well, except that occasionally a man from Gee’s 
nursery came to dig. She was a farmer’s daughter, and had 
been brought up to work, and to practise thrift. At first Joseph 
Wnght feared there would be too much for one woman to do, 
so he engaged a girl to work imder her Sarah presently came 
and said she would rather run the house alone, for the girl ate 
more than herself and her master combined, and it was sheer 
waste of money! One of her plans was to water the milk to 
make it go farther ‘The runnmg expenses of the house’, he 
has told me, ‘for the two of us was fixed at 2/6 per day — ^not 
mcluding coal, light, rent, &c ’ He used to drink beer which 
he bought in a small barrel. He thought it went too qmckly, 
so he arranged that Sarah should buy the beer herself, and he 
should pay her per glass as he consumed it. He was not 
oblivious even to the smallest matters of domestic concern. 
When I suggested that the new cook I had engaged to be ready 
for us in Langdale House might begin by dammg his socks, 
he wrote back with some pnde* ‘There are no socks for her to 
dam, or clothing to mend. I have never allowed such thmgs 
to accumulate. That would be a sign of bad household manage- 
ment.’ Sarah was so efficient that she could cook a hot supper 
for six men, and wait on them at table as if she had a staff of 
helpers in the kitchen. Further, Joseph Wright might say: 
‘ Sarah, I am starting for the Continent to-night. I shall be away 
six weeks.’ Sarah would have everything ready packed (nothing 
forgotten), and the cab at the door— -pinkt^ Once Sarah did 
somethmg she should not have done Joseph Wnght rang the 
bell: ‘Sarah, this must not happen again.’ It never did. She 
kept the house spick and span from cellar to garret, and m 
every way devoted herself to the well-being of her master. She 
would even say he was ‘out’ if a fnend called when he was 



NO 6 NORHAM ROAD 135 

lying very late in bed on a Sunday morning. This particular 
instance of her devotion was discovered by a fnend who 
happened to run his eye over the hat-pegs in the hall I 
remember the day we arrived home from our honeymoon there 
were no matches m the study! I felt in my bones that Sarah 
would not have forgotten the matches for her master’s pipe, 
and I wondered if any cook of my selection would ever come 
up to the previous standard set by her. I had always regarded 
her as a fearsome dragon on the few occasions when she had 
opened the door of No. 6 to admit me, but after I had heard all 
these tales of her surpassing virtues, I spoke of her as ‘the 
inestimable Sarah’ However, Joseph Wnght and I both agreed 
that this priceless gem for a bachelor’s dwelling would not fit 
into a house where there was a wife; so Sarah departed. 

It was a great satisfaction to Joseph Wnght to have at last 
a house of his own In a letter to Professor Holthausen, wntten 
after some eighteen months’ expenence, he says : 

. . . When I first started housekeeping — a big house with a 
good-sized garden — ^my lady fnends here did not see how I 
could possibly manage without a wife' But they have long ago 
found out that a man of my stamp can manage a house I am, 
of course, infinitely better off than being m lodgings, as I have 
plenty of rooms for any httle ‘fads’ I may have study, dimng- 
room, sitting-room, spare bedrooms I dare say that I shall 
take ‘unto myself a helpmate’ some day, but I have not yet seen 
a suitable one. . . , 

In the rest of the letter he gives the following account of 
his studies: 

6 Norham Road, Oxford. Feb. 23, 1893 

My dial, gr. is at last off my hands, and I am very glad, for it 
took me the whole of the last long Vacation to prepare it for 
press and all the Xmas Vacation to see it through the press and 
to make the index verborum. But still it was a piece of work 
worth doing well, and I do hope that Enghsh philologists will. 



126 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

at all events, find it useful. I sent you a copy some time ago, 
which I hope you received all nght. When you have had a 
look at the contents I think you will agree that I have spent 
a good deal of time over the book — ^perhaps more than was 
necessary. Now that the book is ‘out’, I can devote my spare 
time to working out a ‘big’ Comparative Greek Grammar the 
material for which I have been gradually collectmg for some 
years I hope that I may be able to have this book ready for 
press by the end of next year. In my present position I have 
plenty of time for work of this kind as I am only expected to 
give 24 lectures a year, though since I was appointed I have 
made it a practice to give 43 which is not killing. I still give 
some lectures to women here m Gothic and O.H.G. (This 
Term there are 18 women for Gothic"), otherwise I have given 
up all the other teaching I had (O E., M H G , German Com- 
position etc ). In short I have during the last few years become 
a confirmed bookworm with few other interests in life . . 

He retamed the habit that he had contracted in his boyhood 
of sitting up over his books well into the mormng hours. He 
could still do with much less sleep than the majority of people, 
and that without injury to his health or his daily tasks. Indeed, 
sometimes he did not go to bed at all After a bath and break- 
fast he would proceed with his day’s work as if nothing unusual 
had happened. I remember his telling me that when he first 
got Sweet’s History of English Sounds, he sat up all mght read- 
ing It without noticing the clock. When we were married he 
gave up these late hours, and I have even known him to say to 
the young ‘Don’t work late, you lose control of your mind. 
I have torn up an immense lot of stuff. The morning is my 
best time for work ’ He had such strong powers of mental 
control that he could dismiss thought, and go to sleep at any 
moment, and give himself five or fifteen mmutes’ rest when he 
required it. 

When Professor Skeat heard that he was engaged to be 
married he wrote to him: 



NO 6 NORHAM ROAD 


127 


Cambridge. July 5, 1896 

... I feel sure you have made an excellent choice. I rejoice 
to think that you will now be able to have good reason for 
giving up, at once and for ever, your om unhappy habit of 
sitting up so late : the only thing which one has ever regretted 
m connection with your famous career I was much struck by 
a remajrk which my doctor at Dereham once made to me. He 
regretted that he sometimes had in the course of his professional 
duties, to lose a mght’s rest, and he said that it was his firm 
conviction, from his expenence, that for every mght on which 
he sat up after twelve he firmly believed that he shortened his 
life by a day Something of the kind surely happens. . . . 

In the other half of the semi-detached villa hved Dr. Neu- 
bauer. He was a good deal older than Joseph Wnght, and had 
to spare his eyes from too much readmg by artificial hght He 
therefore went to bed very early, and got up as soon as it was 
dayhght. When Joseph Wnght went to bed he knocked on 
the wall to wake up Dr. Neubauer According to the version 
of the story recently told me by a very old Oxford fnend: 
‘Wnght said “Good mormng!” and Neubauer called back 
“Good mght”!’ 

Another faculty which Joseph Wnght developed in his boy- 
hood and never lost was an extraordinary sense of the time of 
day. He seemed to know it by instmct, and strict punctuahty 
was one of his strong points. ‘I never felt the want of a watch’, 
he said to me once, when we were talking about his early life. 
It was not till after he came to Oxford that he bought the 
‘Yorkshire watch’ of which he was so proud. It was an infalhble 
time-keeper ; other people’s watches were ‘behind’ or ‘forward’ 
if they chffered from Joseph Wnght’s It was purchased on 
Apnl 13, 1889, for the sum of los. at Bradford. I foimd the 
‘warranty given by Fattonm and Sons to Mr. Wnght’ for this 
‘extra jewelled’ watch preserved as a most treasured document 
Dufton Wright gave me a vivid dialect account of the purchase 
‘Ahr Jooo said, “Na, lad, Ah want tha to cum to Bradford” 



128 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

Ah said, Ah sud laik to gooa to t’dog-show. Jooo said Ah cud 
’ev one clock-hour. Ah thowt Ah cud see a lot o’ dogs i’ t’hour. 
Ah left on t’strooak, an’ we bowt t’watch at Fattenm’s.’ 
Joseph Wright never would have any diary or note-book to 
remind him of dates and times of lectures or meetings , he said 
It impaired the memory. I believe he never arnved late or 
forgot an engagement, even when he was on the Hebdomadal 
Council, and had to attend numerous Committee meetings 

The only recreation he allowed himself was walking: ‘When 
I was younger,’ he says in his notes, ‘I always liked walking 
better than any other form of exercise. I used to walk to Boar’s 
Hill at least once a week. I took a holiday m the Lake District 
once with Mr. Mayhew,* and once alone. He and I got lost 
in a fog by the Three Shires Stone, and wandered on till we 
eventually came to a farmhouse. I asked the women there to 
“flao t’koud off a quaot o’ nulk”. She made us come in, and 
gave us a very good tea. After that one of her boys conducted 
us back for some distance through the fog, to put us on the way 
to Langdale Pikes where we were staying.’ On another hohday 
he was walkmg in the Yorkshire Dales, probably when staymg 
in his old home at Windhill. Mr. Butler Wood — ^formerly 
Librarian of the Bradford Free Library — ^writing to him in 
1926 recalled ‘the time when Mr. Seth Craven and yourself 
came over to Newby near Clapham to see me when I was 
spending a holiday there. I remember we went to Clapham 
Caves. I have in front of me a photo of you and Mr. Seth 
Craven sittmg against a wall smokmg furiously. Those were 
good old times!’ 

It was with Mr. Winter semor that he first went to Madonna 
di Campiglio m the Southern Tyrol. This was his favourite 
resort in August, whenever he took a real holiday. In his 
dictated notes he says . ‘I went there two or three times with 
Mr. Winter, and once with Professor Napier, and walked hours 

^ The Rev A L Mayhew, for many years Chaplain of Wadham College and 
Lecturer in Hebrew He acted as Treasurer of the Enghsh Dialect Society, and 
subsequently for a time assisted on the staff of the Dialect Diptionary 



PLATE X 



HOLIDAY GROUP, MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO 
J. W. with Herr Winter and his son Carl 



NO. 6 NORHAM ROAD 129 

a day. At certain points up the mountains were huts contaming 
provisions — smoked ham, biscuits, cigars, &c. — ^you put the 
money for what you took in a box. The key of the hut was 
given you at the inn where you stayed the night before. The 
time I went with Professor Napier we met a gentleman from 
Frankfurt at the inn where we were one night, who mvited us 
to join him. He asked his guide — called Giuseppe — ^if he 
would carry my knapsack for me, and he did so for a fortnight, 
and would not accept anything for it. Giuseppe advised me not 
to eat anythmg whilst walkmg. During the day he would not 
allow me to eat more than a bit of bread soaked in a mountain 
stream. I found it answer remarkably well. I ate a meal at 
mght. The food at the inns was very good, and we spent very 
pleasant evenings. Once we watched a peasants’ dance. It was 
not really an mn, rather a farm where you could put up for the 
night, a place connected with some great landowner. It was 
a very beautiful sight — ^milkmaids and cow-boys all m the 
“Tracht” of the district. They sang and yodelled. When not 
dancmg the young men sat together on one side of the room, 
and the girls on the other.’ Another story of Giuseppe the 
guide was told me by Mrs. Napier. Joseph Wright was actually 
younger than Professor Napier, but he looked considerably 
older by reason of his stouter bmld and his beard. On this 
occasion Professor Napier was stndmg on m front up a steep 
climb, together with the guide, when the latter observed Joseph 
Wright coming along rather heavily some way behmd, and 
said : ‘Der Herr Papa kaim mcht so gut laufen’ [ = ‘Your Papa 
cannot walk so fast’]. This,no doubt, was before Giuseppe had 
enforced the bread-and-water rations. The photograph of 
Joseph Wright with Mr. Wmter and his son Carl taken at 
Madonna di Campigho probably belongs to his last hohday 
there in 1895. I have the letter which Mr. Winter wrote sajdng 
he was gomg out there on August i, and how dehghted he 
would be if Joseph Wright would accompany him. He com- 
plains that he has had no letter for a long time, but adds [the 
origmal is in German] : ‘I heard that you are increasmgly busy 

s 



130 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

over the Dialect Dictionary, and so I left you as far as possible 
in peace, and sacrificed myself and Julius Groos. So long as 
you have not undertaken too much ! Divide et impera! Wisdom 
lies in moderation.’ 

The Deputy-Professor of Comparative Philology was only 
required by statute to give twenty-four lectures a year. Joseph 
Wnght, however, did not abide by the minimum number. In 
1893 he wrote to Professor Holthausen that he had ‘made it a 
practice to give forty-two’. The hst of subject-matter which he 
gave me is as follows: ‘Historical Greek Grammar, and 
Historical Latin Grammar (each course two terms); Intro- 
duction to Comparative Philology; Comparative Germanic 
Grammar; Gothic Grammar; Greek Dialects; Italic Dialects.’ 
Further, he said • ‘The subject being such a great one, and the 
requirements of students so various, I used to take a large 
number of pupils privately.’ He did a great deal of teaching in 
his own study, taking two or three men at a time, and some- 
times one alone He believed in ‘personal interest’ in the 
pupil, and also thought it ‘good to introduce young men to 
books on the subject’. The notes add further: ‘I only retained 
students who meant to work; the others gradually dropped off. 
They found they had to work for me, or not be with me. I had 
that system to the end. No Oxford College would send men 
to me unless they meant to take the subject up thoroughly.’ 
On the whole, he considered, students suffered from being 
‘overtaught’, with the result that individual effort was lessened. 
He would dissuade his own pupils from attending a large 
number of lectures, and would seek to encourage them to work 
for themselves as much as possible. He even boasted that his 
pupils would not have much written down in their note-books 
at the end of one of his lectures or classes. To show what his 
pupils thought of his teaching I cannot do better than quote 
from letters I received in March 1930, when the mmds of all 
who had known him turned back to old memories. His first 
pupils m Oxford were the women students, so I quote them 
fct: ‘You will not consider these few words from a Home 



TEACHING 131 

Student of over forty years ago an intrusion. . . . The name of 
“Dr. Wright” has always meant to me earnest work, and thought- 
ful kmdness, from the time he introduced me to Dr. and Mrs. 
Wintemitz of Prague; and such genuine helpfulness that you 
may remember I did not hesitate to write to him on behalf of 
a stranger a very few years ago’. ‘My memory keeps retummg 
to the days when in that queer little lecture room off Pusey 
Lane, I Dr. Wright used to make all his classes so vital that no 
one could forget what he taught.’ ‘I was one of the last class of 
women whom he took in the old room in Alfred Street, and I 
have never forgotten — and shall never forget — ^the impression 
he made on us, or the combination of strength and kindness 
that we found in him.’ ‘He was so mspirmg and so patient. It 
must have been a trial to one of his powers to teach common- 
place girls like myself, and yet he never made you feel that he 
thought you a fool.’ ‘I shall never forget the stimulating 
atmosphere of his classes, and how he set our minds working 
and kept them on the alert searching for knowledge that he 
expected to find in us, while he linked it all together and made 
even dead languages hve again.’ ‘He had a talent for enlivening 
his classes by humorous and witty remarks. . . . He has left so 
many “Geisteskmder” that the world can never forget him.’ 
A woman student, who became a tutor at Royal Holloway 
College in 1894, wrote to him (Dec. 1895) : ‘You show a kind 
heart to us women folk, and it does us lots of good. ... I wish 
I had big genial views of life like you.’ 

When circulars and newspaper paragraphs were proclaiming 

the editorship of the proposed Dialect Dictionary, an old 

pupil, who had been a contemporary of mme at Lady Margaret 

Hall, wrote: . . , ^ « 

Btrmnghatn. Oct. 31^, 1894. 

In a very, very humble spint, I ask if I can be of any sUght 
use to you m your dictionary work — I mean as far as what 
Miss Lea used to call ‘manual labour’ is concerned. After 
your last pulverizing letter, I feel even diffidenter than I 

^ Formerly called Alfred Street, off St Giles’. 



132 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

should have felt before, and that is saying a good deal But 
you know, do you not ? that I shall always be pleased to do even 
the smallest of thmgs for you after all you did for us in our 
Oxford days. I have never quite got over my feelmg of awe 
and alarm consequent on your thundenng out ‘Corporal punish- 
ment ’s the thing!’ and when you fell upon me to slay me, even 
though It was by pen and ink, the old feeling returned and I 
wished the floor would open and swallow me. However I am 
recovering slowly, as is evidenced by a strong desire to justify 
myself. ... All they thirst for here is lectures. Everybody, 
down to my girls, ‘wants to know’, in the most unnatural way. 
They are people after your own heart. . . 

It must have been amongst the non- workers who ‘dropped 
off’ that the legend grew up that ‘Dr. Wnght liked to see his 
pupils sitting round him in tears’! When he became a candidate 
for the Deputy-Professorship, among his testimomals was one 
signed by six of his women students who had gained First 
Class Honours in Modern Languages and English between 
June 1888 and June 1890. It must be noted in connexion with 
these figures that the total number of women students in 
Oxford at that time was extremely small ; and that these two 
Schools were not then University Degree courses, so that they 
were not taken by any men undergraduates. Mrs. Johnson 
and Professor Arthur Sidgwick, the Secretaries of the A.E.W., 
said in their testimonial: ‘There has been but one opimon 
am ong his pupils as to his teaching powers : that it would be 
impossible to find a more thorough, clear, or methodical 
teacher, nor one with more enthusiasm for his subject. A high 
testimony to his power of inspiring his pupils with a like en- 
thusiasm IS the fact that no less than four out of a comparatively 
small number have since continued their philological studies, 
and are already doing a certain amount of origmal work.’ 

Men students were equally grateftil to their old teacher. 
One of them wrote (March 1931): ‘I took up Comparative 
Philology as a special subject in Classical Moderations, and 



TEACHING 133 

went to Professor Wnght’s lectures There was only one other 
member of the audience The subject was too dry for most 
people. Yet neither the dryness of the subject nor the small- 
ness of the audience damped the Professor’s ardour in the least 
He lectured with as much zest as if he had been expounding 
the beauties of poetry to a crowded hall. When the other mem- 
ber of the audience dropped out he continued to lecture to me 
as if I was many. His enthusiasm was infectious and earned 
you through the and mazes of long and short a, long e, and 
short e, as easily as through the greener plams of meamng and 
the life of words He enjoyed himself and made you enjoy it 
with him. You felt he loved language, and also loved to see 
everything fall into its place in a consistent system.’ Professor 
Strachan — of Birmingham Umversity — wrote: ‘I expect you 
will find that Professor Wnght was ^own and loved m some 
unexpected quarters, but you have always known that he was 
loved by his students. And I shall always count myself happy 
to have been one of them.’ A country vicar, in a letter to 
Joseph Wright himself (Nov. 2, 1928), said: Tt was my great 
pnvilege to come m contact with something greater even than 
Philology — ^your personality ’ A former Rhodes Scholar from 
Amenca, in a letter to me (Jan. 30, 1931), said: Tt would be 
difficult to express the debt I owe to Professor Wnght ... If 
there had been nothing else of interest in Oxford, it would 
have been worth the time and effort spent in study m England 
just to sit at the feet of so great a scholar. . . .’ 

Joseph Wnght’s mterest in his students did not cease with 
their Umversity career, if so be he could do anything to en- 
courage them, or promote their success m after life. Many were 
the tnbutes paid to his memory in gratitude for help of this 
kmd. I can only here quote a few of them: ‘I do not forget 
that It IS to Professor Wnght that I owe my return to Oxford 
as a member of the teaching staff, and my chance of a Univer- 
sity career.’ ‘For myself, Ilmow that I have lost a very true and 
very dearly loved friend, I know that any success I have at- 
tained smee my student days has been in great measure due to 



134 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

him; he was a wonderful and inspiring teacher, and more than 
that, a most generous and loyal friend,’ ‘To the Professor I owe 
my very existence as a philological student, and everything I 
have ever accomplished was due to his teaching and encourage- 
ment. He will always remain for me the ideal teacher, and the 
position and hopes for linguisitic study in Oxford are just the 
result of his work and example. I took part of my lecture this 
morning — ^as there was a large audience — ^to try to explam this.’ 
Others too, who had never actually been his pupils, found in 
him a stimulating friend : ‘It is a real gnef to me to know that 
I shall never be able to come again to Professor Wright for 
encouragement and help ; but I shall never forget all that I have 
received from him. He was one of the very few people in 
Oxford who would encourage one in one’s work even if one 
was not academically qualified to undertake it; and because 
everything had been possible for him, he made one feel that 
it was worth trying to do the almost-impossible.’ ‘May I 
express . . . my gratitude for help and encouragement on many 
occasions during the last thirty years. The Professor’s memory 
will always give us younger philologists new heart to face our 
difficulties.’ 

The collection of twenty testimonials which Joseph Wnght 
was able to produce in support of his candidature for the 
Deputy-Professorship in 1891 amply suffices to show that his 
outstanding genius and scholarship had already been recognized 
by his teachers m Germany, and by his fnends and colleagues 
both at home and abroad. Chief among his supporters was 
Professor Brugmann, the great originator and leader of the 
‘Junggrammatiker’ School. He referred to the frequent inter- 
course he had had with Joseph Wright in Leipzig, when they 
had discussed scientific problems together, ^jid pointed him 
out as a master of the newest philological principles and 
methods of research. Professor Kluge^ laid stress on the 
excellence of the written works Joseph Wright had produced, 

I Professor of the Gemaanic Languages and Literatures at the University of 
Jena, later at Freiburg-m-Breisgau. 



TEACHING 135 

and then said [m German] : ‘But your special recommendation 
is that you have studied the actual life of language in popular 
dialect. Things that you told me years ago about the Yorkshire 
dialect you were studying were surprisingly fine results of 
penetrating research, and with regard to many points I have 
very keenly regretted not bemg able to mention these results, 
which are so mteresting for the history of English Sounds, 
because they were not yet pubhshed.’ Dr. James Murray said: 
‘I know no one in England so fully acquamted with the state 
of the science at present, and the problems which he before us 
m the future. . . . His great strength is in the general Compara- 
tive Philology of the Indo-European Languages, includmg 
especially the light which this sheds upon the form and history 
of the classical languages of Greece and Rome ; and it would be 
a great thing for the interest of classical scholarship in Oxford 
that this subject should be placed m his hands.’ A Welsh 
scholar, Dr. Gwenogfryn Evans, spoke of having consulted 
him on ‘various pomts touchmg the phonology of Welsh, a 
subject wellnigh totally neglected. Though Dr. Wright has 
not studied Welsh, yet so complete is his mastery of Aryan 
phonology that I have never consulted him in vain.’ His fnend 
Professor Napier, who had known him well since 1888, wrote . 
‘There is scarcely a smgle branch of the Indo-European family 
of languages to which he has not, at sometime or other, devoted 
his attention. . . . There is no need for me to speak of the 
excellence of the books Dr. Wnght has already pubhshed. I 
may say that I have seen a large portion of the manuscript of 
his forthcoimng Gothic Primer, and I believe that, when 
printed, it will be the best introduction to the study of Gothic, 
not only m English, but in any other language.’ Dr. Sweet 
wrote: ‘I have^ for many years watched with interest and 
sympathy the extraordinary industry and perseverance with 
which you have pursued the study of Comparative Philology. 
I do not know that any Enghshman has a greater knowledge 
of It than yourself.’ The book of testimonials concludes with 
one from Dr. Wintemitz: ‘I have had ample opportunity of 



136 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

admiring and profiting by his profound knowledge of the 
principles of Comparative Philology and especially of its 
minutest details in the Classical and Teutomc Languages. . . . 
In the course of my studies which, during the last years, have 
chiefly been concerned with Vedic literature, I had frequently 
opportunity to ask Dr. Wright’s opimon on Sansknt etymo- 
logies, on difficult points of Sanskrit grammar, and on such 
questions of Sansknt phonology as can only be solved from a 
comparative point of view, and my difficulties have always been 
cleared up by his lucid explanations. . . . From my constant 
intercourse with Dr. Wright, I can testify perhaps better than 
anybody else to his love for work (I know no harder worker 
than Dr. Wright) and to his unbounded enthusiasm for his 
subject. He possesses the thoroughness and conscientiousness 
of the German scholar, combined with the practical sense of 
the Englishman, which make him foresee all the difficulties 
that the learner is hkely to meet with No wonder, therefore, 
that his powers and his success as a teacher — as is acknowledged 
on all sides — cannot be matched.’ 

In two of the letters to Professor Holthausen, previously 
quoted — ^Dec. 18, 1888, and Jan. 17, 1889 — ^Joseph Wright 
expressed his opinion that the ‘wntmg of vanous reviews and 
small contributions to text-cntic’ was not the way to earn 
recogmtion and promotion. The thing to do was to produce 
good books. Very early in his career he had begun to preach 
this doctrine. He never left off preaching it, when called upon 
to give advice on the subject He was of course doing a great 
deal more teaching in Oxford than he had done in Germany, 
nevertheless he was continually working at new Grammars. In 
the Preface to his testimonials he mentions the two Primers — 
viz. a Middle High German Pnmer (Jan. i888),^d an Old High 
German Primer (May 1888) — which he had published ‘since 
coming to reside in Oxford’, and says further: ‘I have also 
nearly finished the manuscript of a Gothic Primer, which has 
been accepted by the Delegates of the Clarendon Press. 
Besides these books I have written the article on English 



PUBLICATIONS 137 

Dialects for Paiil’s Grundrm der germanischen Phthlogte, and 
have prepared and printed, at the special request of Professor 
Skeat, a specimen of an English Dialect Dictionary on historical 
principles.’ The article on English Dialects appeared in 1890. 
It was reprinted in a second edition of the Grundrm in 1901 , 
with a footnote by the editor saymg that he had repeatedly 
written to ask the author if he wished to revise or supplement 
the work, but could get no answer whatever to his letters The 
article (which is written in German) consists mamly of a full 
and detailed list of the ‘most useful and most rehable’ dialect 
dictionaries and glossaries extant, arranged in systematic 
groups. In very many cases the wnter adds his opimon as to 
the value of the collection, showmg that he was more or less 
reviewing each of the works tabulated In the openmg para- 
graph he says : ‘The enormous mass of dialect words which in 
the course of the century has been collected and registered will 
always remain an invaluable source of information for English 
etymologists. Nevertheless, among the countless dialect glos- 
saries which have been compiled and published, there are 
relatively few of really significant worth to the scholar in the 
domam of sound-laws and the history of the Enghsh language. 
The reason for the deficiency may be foimd of course in the 
circumstance that most of the compilers possessed only an 
inadequate phonetic traming or none at all, and were therefore 
not m a position to be able to define the exact pronunciation, 
even with moderate accuracjr.’ Certain existing dictionaries of 
‘Provincial English’, he says, are not to be rehed upon ‘where 
it is a question whether any given Old English word still 

survives in modem dialects’ because ‘no difference is made 

between words which actually appear m hvmg dialects, and 
those which can only be shown to exist in Middle Enghsh or 
Early New English’. This introduction to the following bibho- 
graphy concludes with the statement that these deficiencies 
‘will shortly be remedied when the English Dialect Society, 
which has already done so much towards rescuing from oblivion 
a mass of pnceless dialect material, shall have earned out its 



138 EARLY YEARS IN OXFORD 

proposed plan of publishing a comprehensive Dictionary of all 
the Modem English Dialects’. 

The Gothic Pnmet was first published in 1892. A second 
edition came out in 1899. The Historical German Grammar did 
not appear till 1907, but he had planned it, and was workmg 
at It ‘all the summer’ in 1888, and onwards, as may be seen 
from his letters to Professor Holthausen. The Windhxll Dialect 
Grammar, which was prmted in 1893, was the first Grammar of 
Its kind in England: a scientific study of a hving dialect m- 
tended to be useful to philologists. Professor Holthausen noted 
in the later testimonial he wrote in 1901, that it had received 
most cordial recogmtion from competent judges m Germany. 
Joseph Wnght had heard and spoken this particular dialect 
from his childhood, and had then set himself to study it from 
the standpoint of the newest and most scientific philology. He 
maintained that living speech was in many ways of more value 
to the philologist than the written word of dead languages, and 
this was his first contribution in support of the theory On the 
title-page he gave as his motto : 

Nut das Beispiel fQhrt zum Licht; 

Vieles Reden thut es mcht ^ 

and he sent the book forth with the simple dedication • ‘To my 
Mother’. He had ‘for years’ been collecting material for his 
Historical Greek Grammar, and in 1893 when he had seen the 
Windhill Grammar through the press, and it was finally ‘off 
his hands’ he returned to this task. The actual output of these 
years is not representative of the creative work upon which he 
was engaged, because during the latter part of the period under 
consideration in this chapter, his time was mcreasingly absorbed 
in preparing the way for the coming Dialect Dictionary. The 
Greek Grammar ultimately had to be laid aside, and it was not 
finished and published till 1912. 

Joseph Wright, as he says of himself in the notes I have 
quoted, was a great ‘buyer of books’. He spent very consider- 
able sums on books, even in Germany, and at the beginning of 

* ‘Example only leads to enlightenment, much talking does not achieve it ’ 



PUBLICATIONS 139 

his Oxford life, when money was short. He frequently said: 
‘I could never afford to use the Bodleian. Time is money. I 
bought the books I needed.’ As far as I can remember he only 
once went to the Bodleian Library, and that was when we were 
planning our new house in 1904, and the architect wanted us 
to see a technical book contaimng large-sized pictures of 
Georgian houses. I have found among his papers a mass of 
receipted bills for books bought between 1891 and 1894, when 
he had an assured mcome as Deputy-Professor; at first mostly 
grammars and philological works from Germany, and then in 
1894 chiefly old dictionanes, dialect glossanes, and other 
second-hand books obviously tools and materials for the 
Dialect Dictionary. By this time he possessed a large library, 
and his study at No. 6 Norham Road was surrounded by well- 
filled book-shelves. 

In March 1894 he was made MA. by decree of Convocation, 
and m November of that year he matnculated as a Non- 
Collegiate member of Oxford University. 

His thoughts and aspirations were now mainly centred on 
the great work of his life : the English Dialect Dictionary. 



CHAPTER FOUR 

ROMANCE 

I ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

T he precise date when Joseph Wnght and I first met is 
fixed by an entry in a very prosaic diary of mine, which I 
kept from about 1883 to 1894. It was on October 16, 1888. I 
was a second-year student at Lady Margaret Hall, and he was 
my new Lecturer. 

When I came up to Oxford in 1887, I had pictured myself 
humbly threading my way through cloisters and quadrangles 
where the feet of scholars had trod for generations past, to sit 
and hsten to lectures in historic Colleges whose very names I 
had revered all my life. The change to reality was a sad blow. 
My subject being English^ — ^at that date not a recogmzed 
Degree course, and therefore only taken by women students — 
all my lectures and classes were under the auspices of the 
Association for the Higher Education of Women, briefly known 
as the A.E.W. It was not till the year 1894 that English Lan- 
guage and Literature became a Final Honour School for the 
ordinary Oxford Degree, and the first examination was held 
in 1896. I went to the New Schools to hear Professor Napier 
on certain afternoons every week, but apart from that I always 
frequented the Rooms belongmg to the A.E.W. 

Miss Wordsworth — ^now Dame Elizabeth Wordsworth — ^in 
her Glimpses of the Past, gives an original Lecture List of the 
A.E.W., and then says: ‘The lectures began by being given 
in a room over Mr. Marlowe’s, a baker’s shop at 35 Little 
Clarendon Street.’ In a footnote is added: ‘At a later date the 
premises occupied by the A.E.W. were rooms in Alfred Street 
which belonged to the Pusey House; the largest of which had 
formerly been a Baptist Chapel, and was not without traces of 

^ *As fat back as 1880 the University had instituted special examinations for 
women, one of which was an exammation m the English Language and Litera- 
ture of a pretty high standard ' Vide The School of English Language and Litera- 
ture^ by C H Firth, p 35. 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 141 

Its original use ’ The old name has been altered, and Alfred 
Street — ^leading off from St. Giles’ — ^is now called Pusey Street, 
and the old Rooms were pulled down about three years ago, 
and the site absorbed into the garden of Pusey House. But m 
1887, if you were — as I was then — a woman student not work- 
ing at a subject set for a manly Degree, you went down Alfred 
Street as far as the cobbler’s shop on the nght, and then you 
took the turmng opposite, to the left. It was an obscure and 
narrow roadway, where the Corporation carts, screened from 
the pubhc eye, could collect the rubbish from the back-garden 
gates of the St. John’s Street houses. Coal might perhaps 
amve that way, but it was pnmarily a dustbin avenue. Here, 
on the left, was a little door in the wall, over-arched by a semi- 
circular iron bar supporting a gas-lamp, with the umnviting 
superscription ‘District Room’. You opened this door and 
dived xmder some clothes-hnes across a space where a few 
depressed hens wandered about among derehct cabbage-stalks, 
and presently you found yourself in a small and dmgy room, 
set out with chairs and desks and a black-board. Nothing 
could have been more dreary and commonplace, yet, looking 
back now, over the expanse of more than forty years, I would 
not have exchanged those gloomy haunts for all the hallowed 
cloisters and stoned halls in Oxford There it was that Destiny 
came to meet me, beanng in her hands the one great crown of 
woman’s hfe. 

The entry in my diary for October 16, 1888, runs : ‘Went to 
Dr. Wnght’s Anglo-Saxon lecture, where he asked “elemen- 
tary” questions, which I couldn’t answer. I felt emboldened 
though by the presence of all the new people,’ Joseph Wright, 
on his side, with his characteristic rapidity of decision, had 
meanwhile settle,d the question as to who should be his future 
wife. 

Now, seemg that I had not dropped suddenly from the skies 
into that Lecture-room, I may perhaps digress here from the 
mam subject of this Biography to explain who and what I was, 
and how I came to find Romance in a lodge in a garden of 



142 ROMANCE 

clothes-props. But before entering on the history of my 
parentage and childhood, I should like by way of apology to 
give yet further reasons for including these colourless back 
numbers in the biography of Joseph Wright. Whether or not 
they justify the inclusion, I leave to the reader to decide. He 
can, if he prefers, take warmng, and skip several pages from 
this point onwards 

When I first started this Biography Joseph Wright was still 
with me, and we worked at it together. He supplied me with 
material from his own recollections, and I put it down m wnt- 
ing. But since he left me, the whole scheme of the book has 
changed its aspect, or rather, as I see it now, it must include 
a very great deal more than I ongmally mtended. It must give 
a picture of Joseph Wright, not as he would have painted it 
himself — ^for he was the last person to blazon forth his own 
greatness — ^but as he appeared to one who was his wife for 
nearly thirty-four years. 

From an outside point of view — ^as the following pages will 
show — ^the circumstances and surroundings of Joseph Wright’s 
birth and early years and mine could hardly have been more 
dissimilar, yet our union was as perfect as married life could 
well be. It was not that our respective idiosyncrasies were 
swallowed up in our love for each other, but we found that 
each dovetailed into the other in the little things of life as well 
as in the big things, in our habits, our modes of thought, our 
general attitude towards everyday existence. Certainly my 
lines had fallen in less toil-trodden places than his, but like 
him, I had had no part or lot in the world of gaiety and excite- 
ment, of external pomp and show; and we both of us clung to 
the same kind of goodly heritage, the traditions of a ‘simple. 
God-fearing home’ — ^to use a favourite phrase of his own. 
Herem, I think, lies to some extent the explanation of the 
extraordinary similarity of outlook on life which became so 
manifest to us both ip 1896, the year of our engagement and 
marriage. 

Further, the history of how he fostered and encouraged the 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 143 

germ of ability I possessed for linguistic studies is an example 
of what he was ever seeking to do for any young student with 
whom he came in contact The magnitude of his own achieve- 
ments acted as an incentive to a humbler brain, because over 
and above all shone his sympathy and kindness of heart, and 
his readiness to give sound, practical advice The interest he 
took in the efforts of a beginner was in itself an inspiration, and 
out of the abundance of his own knowledge he would give with 
unfailmg generosity the help which would sustam and develop 
good work once begun. As Professor Max Forster wrote of 
him, ‘he took a delight m helping’. Such then are my excuses 
for mtroducing the personal narrative which follows. 

I was bom on October 10, 1863. One of my earliest recollec- 
tions IS that we had been taught to add our address to our 
names, m case we might get lost m the street. Hence my name, 
as I had learned it, was Elizabeth Mary Lea,Trimty Parsonage, 
Bow Road, London E. When my father’s curate asked me one 
day what my name was, I suppose I thought a section of it 
good enough for the likes of him, so I replied, ‘Trinity Parson- 
age’. Thus I was bom a tme Cockney, within sound of Bow 
bells, but Joseph Wnght never thought I spoke at all like one 
He maintained that my ‘vowel-system’, though mixed, was 
mainly of a northerly stamp. The reason for this was that my 
father was a Worcestershire man, and my mother came from 
Lincolnshire. Our nurse, though a Londoner by habitation, 
was by extraction Scotch. I can recall my mother tellmg me 
not to say moi for ‘my’, or hdy for ‘lady’, but I cannot have 
picked up these pronunaations inside the Parsonage nursery 

My father, Frederic Simcox Lea — ^he made a great point of 
the final c, not of his first name — ^was bom on Chnstmas 
Eve 1822. He came of a long line of Kidderminster carpet 
manufacturers. He was never sent to a Public School, nor 
indeed to anything beyond a small dame’s school m his earliest 
years. As soon as he was old enough he was put into the 
family busmess, where he rose to a position of authonty. He 



144 ROMANCE 

had no mind, however, for an industrial career, and at the age 
of twenty-four, having saved enough money for the purpose, 
he mformed his father of his intention to leave the business, go 
up to Oxford and take a Degree, and then become a clergyman. 
He matriculated at Wadham College m 1847. He passed 
Responsions, and then proceeded to work for his Final Schools. 
In 1851 he took a First in Greats, and his B.A. Degree. He 
was ordamed Deacon in the same year, and Priest in 1852. 
From 1853 to 1856 he was a Fellow of Brasenose College, and 
he took his M.A. Degree m 1854 After holding two curacies 
in succession, he was in 1855 appointed Perpetual Curate of 
Holy Trmity, Stepney, and for the next seventeen years he 
devoted himself heart and soul to the needs of this pansh. He 
enjoyed the work, and always maintained that the East End of 
London was not as black as it was usually painted. He was a 
prominent member of Sion College, which has recently cele- 
brated its tercentenary. The Secretary kindly furnished me 
with the following particulars : ‘Your father, the Rev. Frederic 
Simcox Lea, P.C. of Holy Trinity Stepney, was President of 
the College in 1871, and his coat of arms is here m a stained 
glass window. He served the office of 4th Assistant in the 
Court durmg the years 1866-67, and was Junior Dean of the 
College from 1868-70.’ 

My grandfather, Thomas Simcox Lea, was made Sheriff of 
Worcestershire m 1845. I can only remember him as a very 
old gentleman, who once bestowed on me some sweet biscuits 
out of a cupboard in the hall of his big house. Some time in the 
early ’forties he had bought a house at Astley, which was then 
called The Hill, and is now Astley Hall, well known as the 
coimtry seat of England’s ex-Pnme Minister, Mr. Stanley 
Baldwin. It is about two and a half miles from Stourport, and 
some seven from Kidderminster. Constable, as a young man, 
painted a portrait of my grandfather sitting on a bank, under 
an oak, with a lowering sky in the background. As the story 
goes, my grandfather said: ‘Why did you pamt me, a careful, 
family man, sittmg under a tree in a thunder-storm?’ ‘Sir,’ 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


H5 

replied Constable, ‘when everybody has entirely forgotten 
you, this picture will be valuable for my thunder-storm’. 

It was then at Astley that my father prepared himself for his 
Oxford days, reading in the summer-house in the Long 
Vacations. It was there, too, that he came to know my mother. 
One of his sisters had been sent to a London boarding-school, 
called Great Campden House, a school of much repute amongst 
Old Evangehcal families. Here she made fnends with my 
mother, Elizabeth Catherme Clark, a clergyman’s daughter 
from the village of Harmston, near Lincoln. When Anne 
Mana Lea brought her schoolfellow — a singularly lovely girl — 
to stay at Astley in the summer holidays, my father, then an 
Oxford undergraduate, at once fell in love with her. They 
became engaged in 1848, and after wnting to each other every 
day for seven years, they were mamed on December ii, 1855. 
The reasons for this long interim were partly because the 
lady’s parents thought my father held rather dangerously 
‘High Church’ views learnt at Oxford, and partly for the more 
practical reason that they did not wish their daughter to marry 
a curate, so that my father had to wait till he was presented to 
a hving I have been told that my grandmother took a special 
journey, unbeknown to her prospective son-in-law, to hear him 
take a service and preach a sermon, in order to satisfy herself 
that his rehgious opimons were not on the road to Rome. It 
is a matter of constant regret to me that my father, when an 
old man, burned all his and my mother’s love-letters. Both 
were good letter-writers, and far too serious-minded to waste 
ink and paper on mere billing and cooing. I can well beheve 
that those letters contained much that would be of great value 
now concermng life and thought in the middle of last century. 

As matenal for the history of those bygone times, I will here 
quote some ‘old memones’ wntten out for me in 1900 by my 
aunt, Anne Maria Lea, descnbing her and my mother’s school. 
Great Campden House. My own personal interest m them 
arises from the fact that I trace therem certain elements which 
eventually made up the fabnc of what I proudly term my 

u 



146 ROMANCE 

Early-Victorian, Old-Evangelical, Clergyman’s-Fanuly back- 
ground: 

I have in my jottings that G C H. had been a ladies’ boarding 
school for 60 years in 1820. 

Mrs. Stewart was the then Lady Principal, and her pupils 
were the pick of the aristocracy. The Campden Ball (on 
Mrs. Stewart’s birthday) was a great event of the London 
season, and for 3 weeks beforehand all lessons gave way to 
dressmakers, milliners, and the Court dancing Master Mr. 
Jenkins, who boasted that he taught the Princess Charlotte, 
who by his account was often very naughty! 

Mrs. Teed was brought up as a half-boarder, and when 
Mrs. Stewart was too old to carry on the school Mrs. Teed was 
asked to take it in hand. 

Religion in any form was ignored in those days, and Sunday 
visiting was the rule. 

The Carved Schoolroom was licensed for service, and Mr. 
Parker engaged as Chaplain, I think at ^200 a year. Mrs. Teed 
went to some week-day Lectures by Mr. Bradley, a clergyman 
at Clapham (afterwards published I think), and became an 
earnest Christian woman, longing to teach her girls what she 
had learnt, and to train them for better thmgs. 

In this she was greatly blessed, and titled girls began to beg 
off the Sunday visiting in which they were left quite free to 
please themselves by Mrs. Teed. 

As time went on, she felt it hardly consistent to teach ‘ball- 
room dancing’ and gave 6 months’ notice to parents that she 
would give it up, but that Mr. Jenkins would still teach all 
postures, steps, and deportment m every way. It was a sore 
trial, for the school was her only maintenartce, and she had 
made herself responsible for Mr. Parker’s stipend. 

Every one of the girls was taken away, but she reopened 
with every bed full, with those whose parents wanted their 
girls brought up as ‘Christian gentlewomen’, tho’ of course they 
were not for the most part of high rank. 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 147 

All this I heard from time to time from Mrs Teed herself. 
She positively forbade any memoir or record of her life to be 
pubhshed, and I believe destroyed all materials which would 
have been useful, and the race of ‘faithful Campdenites’ is fast 
djnng out, so that I am glad the nsing generation should know 
something of her wonderful work. 

We have now got from the Library the ‘Life and Adventures 
of George Augustus Sala’ and are much amused to find that 
his mother nee Simon must have been at school at Campden 
in old Mrs. Stewart’s time. They used to have a Coach brought 
to the door, and Mr Jenkins the Court dancing master taught 
the girls to get m and out, and the French Refugee who is 
spoken of as teachmg French was still domg so in my time. 
Monsieur De Rabandy, we called him, but I believe he was a 
Count in his own coxmtry. 

But the most amusmg thmg is that Sala coolly announces 
the house was ‘turned into a lunatic asylum’. Such I suppose 
was the world’s idea of a school conducted on Christian prin- 
ciples, mmus dancing, just as ‘Paul, thou art beside thyself in 
old days. . . . 

Your Mother and Aunts had been at a very mce school in 
Derbyshire, but it was given up, and Mr. Clark consulted 
my Uncle George as to any good school to which he could send 
them. I had gone in January 1842 to Great Campden House, 
on Mr. Havergal’s recommendation, and this, I beheve, decided 
the question. For at the Easter quarter Mary, Lizzie, and Susan 
Clark appeared on the scene and were told to take some notice 
of me! They were tall, stately, and used to good society; 
poor little me had been a country harum-scarum allowed to 
play boys’ games with your father and our boy cousins 
Arthur and Walter, and was being very slowly ‘licked mto 
shape’. Of course the older and more advanced girls were 
more suitable as their friends. But they were good and kind 
and friendly. . . . 

After I left school Mary and Lizzie came to stay at Astley 
several times, were greatly liked by all at home, and so the 



ROMANCE 

ndship was really begun And I often stayed at Harmston, 
i Mary and I exchanged long and frequent letters. 

Jut when your father and mother were attached and en- 
,ed the friendship slipped from various causes — ^your 
ither’s love and affection were never changed to the very 
i 

Did memones crowd roimd me as I write I can see the old 
toolroom and the 3 walking up it. . . . 

I cannot recall that my mother retained any special affection 
• the famous Mrs. Teed. All that I can remember hearing 
her was that she used to walk through the class-rooms where 
3 poor girls had to sit at their lessons on hard forms, saying, 
acks, backs, backs, young ladies'* to such as were not keeping 
I her standard of deportment ; and that she used to read all 
•ters received by the girls, so that my father, when wnting 
his sister, took a delight in crossmg and recrossing his pages 
order to try the patience of the lady Head The teaching was 
lund and thorough. My mother was the household encyclo- 
ledia in all questions of history and geography, and a good 
•holar in French and German, though after she was married 
le had no time to pursue her girlhood studies. 

There were seven of us children m that East London Parson- 
ge, four boys in succession, and then three girls. I was the 
Idest girl. My mother was a splendid housekeeper, and years 
1 advance of the century in all matters relating to health and 
ygiene. Plam living and high thinking, thrift and simplicity 
fere the standards of life set before us by our parents, and by 
.ur faithful nurse, Elizabeth Jane Monro, who came to live 
pith us in 1858, and never left us till she passed on in 1917 to 
he better world whither her old master and pustress had pre- 
ceded her. Next to our mother we loved our devoted nurse, 
vho was then and always one of the family. Her age was a 
nystery we could never solve, any leadmg mquiries were met 
jy her reply, T am as old as my tongue, and a little older than 
.ny teeth*. She liked us to realize that she had renounced the 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


149 

world for our behoof. We understood that she belonged to ‘the 
poor branch of the Monro family’, and had a clan of remote and 
grand relations of the name in Scotland We grew up with a 
firm belief that, but for a succession of babies in this our home, 
she would have thrown in her lot with a dashing young red- 
coated officer whom she had met and danced with at an Artillery 
Ball in the dim past I believe this was pure legend, but it 
provided food for the young imagination There was also the 
wondrous tale of how she had once held open a gate for 
the Duke of Welhngton, and how, though she had not hked the 
peremptory way in which he had commanded her to do him 
this service, he had turned round on his horse and said ‘Thank 
you’ to her The reflected glory which then thnlled us is an 
abiding memory to-day 

Cromwell’s maxim, ‘Trust in God, and keep your powder 
dry’, might be said to be the rule of the road in my old home. 
My mother tucked her children up in bed at night with the 
texts, ‘I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest: for it is 
Thou, Lord, only, that makest me dwell in safety’, and ‘Whoso 
hearkeneth imto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from 
fear of evil’, but she also taught us that ‘Heaven helps those 
who help themselves’, and we had to learn to be practical 
‘A woman should be a good nurse, a good cook, and a good 
needlewoman’ was her dictum, and to us she was always 
wisdom incarnate. 

There was not much money to spend, and my parents were 
determined by hook or crook to give us one and all a good 
education. To this end my father, after a hard day’s work m 
his thickly populated London parish, would sit up most of the 
mght writing articles for the Saturday Review to pay the elder 
boys’ school fe^, whilst my mother would be patching and 
mending our clothes by the hght of one candle because she 
would not afford two. My father never smoked, and to the end 
of his life he ate nothmg beyond dry bread and salt for his 
breakfast. He was so overworked that he could not stand the 
chatter of children, so we had to ‘be seen and not heard’ when 



IS® ROMANCE 

he was in the room. I can remember sitting on a stool on one 
side of the fireplace with a picture-book on my lap, and a small 
sister likewise occupied on a corresponding stool, whilst our 
parents were having their six o’clock tea in the Parsonage 
dinmg-room. When we were considered old enough to have 
our meals with them, on no account were we allowed to talk 
at table. Long after I was grown up it was still an effort to 
me to be conversational at meals, so ingramed was the habit 
of silence. My sisters and I were taken every day by our nurse 
to walk in Victoria Park. We used to walk past rows of very 
respectable little houses, with muslin curtains, and the orna- 
ment off a wedding-cake under a glass case in the parlour 
window. Our sole excitement was to run under a railway arch 
when a tram was thundenng over the top of it. We wore our 
hair cut short — a labour-saving scheme, not the dictate of 
fashion — ^and strained back from our foreheads under a semi- 
circular comb. I remember how I admired and envied the 
other little girls in the Park who had long hair all crimpy and 
fluffy from being put into damp plaits at night. Once a passing 
stranger asked me if I was a boy or a girl! The flight of sixty- 
odd years has failed to wipe out the memory of that cruel 
affront. It was not till we had left the smuts of East London 
for the purer air of Somerset that I was allowed the luxury of 
long crimpy hair. 

My father was much too busy to allow himself time for 
recreation of any sort, and even my gifted and beautiful mother 
had no social entertainments, except the ‘working-parties’ at- 
tended by the worthy ladies who helped in the parish. Dining- 
room tea was provided on those occasions as a break in the 
afternoon. We never went to children’s parties, and we only 
had cake — or jam — on Sundays. I remember one red-letter day 
when I had twopence of my own, when I was allowed to go to 
a neighbouring shop and purchase an egg. I thought it would 
be good for my nurse, as she had not been well. She shared that 
egg with three little girls round the nursery tea-table, so the 
actual benefit to herself was small. Sweets were unknown to us. 



PLATE XI 



E. M, LEA 
Aged four 




ELIZABETH MARY LEA 151 

except when Great-aunt Louisa came to pay a visit. Some- 
where in the depths of her voluminous skirts she earned a store 
of sugar-plums — ^the httle, old-fashioned sort, pink, or white, 
with a caraway-seed at the finish. History related that once 
upon a time a venturesome swam had laid his hand on his heart, 
and prayed Great-aunt Louisa to marry him, whereupon she 
had twirled a mop m his face. When I last saw her she was 
sitting erect in a four-post bed, a stately lady still, like an 
ancestral picture, with her face framed in the white frills of a 
large nightcap, from under which peeped neat rows of grey 
curls Hers was a rulmg spirit to the last. When near her end 
she ordered her meces to bring black-edged paper and en- 
velopes to her bedside, while she dictated to them the names of 
such persons who were to be informed of her demise. One 
would like to know if she thought of the rejected smtor. Per- 
haps time and sugar-plums had mellowed her pride, and at 
least she would have him know she had never given her hand 
to a favoured rival. 

A daily governess taught us lessons in the mornings. She 
began with my brothers, and when they were all away at school 
she went on with my sisters and me. Her name was Miss 
Drury, and she wore a lace cap, otherwise I remember little 
about her, except that she once asked me what a lady friend of 
my mother’s had said when I saw her. I rephed: ‘She asked 
me if I liked you.’ ‘And what did you say.?’ queried my 
governess. Honesty compelled me to proceed, so I told her my 
reply was. ‘Not much.’ ‘And that’, said the lady, with some 
asperity, ‘after I had given you such a nice paint-box!’ It was 
venly ‘a mce paint-box’, and I have it still, but she should not 
have asked such searching questions. 

In the summer we were all taken to my grandfather’s at 
Astley . There was a ‘mile walk’ round the gardens and paddock 
fields, which seemed an immense distance. Once when my 
nurse had rounded a comer out of my Sight I gave myself up 
for lost and shed tears of despair. I must have been very young 
then, for my grandfather died m 1868, and his widow the 



ROMANCE 


152 

following year, consequently my numerous maiden aunts left 
Astley, and we never went there again. We were now taken 
for summer holidays to Alverstoke, a small and wholly im- 
fashionable sea-side place near Gosport, to give us a breath of 
fresh air away from East London A curious little reminiscence 
came back to me recently when reading Thomas Hardy’s 
Woodlanders. In his introductory paragraphs before the episode 
of the settmg of the old ‘man-trap’, he states that these instru- 
ments of torture had gone out of use by about 1840. It must 
have been in about 1870 when I beheld, nailed to a tree, a 
dreadful Notice which said : ‘beware of Man-traps and Spring- 
guns,’ We were all of us out blackberrying at Alverstoke, and 
I had ventured into a small wood. I boldly pushed forward, till 
presently I espied what was in reality a rusty old chicken-coop, 
probably once the home of a hatch of pheasants, foster- 
mothered by a farmyard hen. I made sure that this was a 
‘man-trap’ and beat a hasty retreat, my courage sustained by 
the excitement of havmg a really startling discovery to relate to 
the rest of my fanuly. 

The long strain of parochial work, especially during cholera 
epidemics, was now telling on my father’s naturally strong con- 
stitution, and in the year 1872 he was ordered by his doctor to 
give up East London and t^e a coimtry living. He was very 
anxious to get back to his native county, but he was obliged to 
whatever offered. So we migrated first to a small village in 
Somerset. It was actually two villages coupled together, under 
one church. We lived beside the church in Dundon village, 
and Compton was about a mile away. A one-by-one stone- 
flagged path across the fields, along which the inhabitants of 
Compton came to church, formed the only causeway possible 
for a nurse and three httle girls to frequent in ^e mud of winter. 
About half-way we could count on finding a certam friendly 
cow, who would eat apples out of our hands. There was a fine 
peal of bells to listen to on Sundays, and a wonderful yew-tree 
in the churchyard, hollow inside, big enough to hold several 
children at once. Durmg the service vanous new and surpnsmg 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


153 

things happened to engage attention. All the Sunday School 
children would get up from their seats in the chancel to greet 
my father as he walked past them to the vestry to change his 
surplice for a black gown before the sermon. The girls curt- 
sied and the boys pulled their forelocks Then my father 
disappeared through a hole m the wall of the nave, and by some 
mystenous staircase he came out agam mto the pulpit. Owls 
hved m the church tower, and hooted round us at mght, and 
dropped dead mice m the garden. There was just one shop, 
hard by us, m the Dundon village. You could buy soap and 
pins, calico and sugar, matches and bacon, but it always smelt 
of the tallow candles which hung by their wicks m clustering 
bimches. Our nurse called them ‘tolly-dips’, and they lighted 
us to bed. Certainly we were very far from the maddmg crowd, 
but never having known it, even m London, we did not miss it 
The postman who brought letters from the outside world 
kmdly sat down in the porch and waited to see if he was 
wanted to carry back any immediate replies to them. If the 
weather was specially cold he was given mulled elderberry 
wme to cheer him. When my father could not journey mto 
Wells to have his hair cut, it was done for him by a local sheep- 
shearer with his shears. Beside the garden was a large orchard, 
and though the apples were intended for cider-making, they 
were large and succulent, much too good to serve for cider 
only. A long row of elder-bushes at the bottom of the garden 
provided far more berries than were needed for the postman’s 
wme, and it was a new joy for town children to make a lovely 
purple squash of them in dolls’ cups and saucers. In the fields 
there were plenty of blackberries in their season, for the natives 
believed them to be poisonous, and the village children were 
taught by their mothers not to touch them. Best of all were the 
delights of hay-time, when my mother would take us to spend 
an afternoon at the Snook family’s farm. (It was important to 
say Mrs. Snook, and not Snooks, which would have turned a 
grand name into a vulgar one.) To nde on top of a load of 
fresh hay, from the field to the rick-yard, to see cows milked, 

X 



ROMANCE 


154 

and actually dnnk the nulk warm out of the pad — one can even 
now recall the thrills of childish pleasure' To get to this land 
of promise you had to go through several fields divided by 
canal-like ditches, locally termed ‘reans’, which you crossed by a 
narrow plank bridge. My younger sisters were too terrified to 
walk the plank and had to be carried in turn by my mother, but 
once at the farm the penis of the way were quickly forgotten. 

We were only one year at Compton Dundon, for in 1873 
my father accepted the offer of the Brasenose living of Tedstone 
Delamere. It was actually in Herefordshire, but close to the 
borders of Worcestershire. The Rectory was much larger and 
more suited to a big family The Somerset panshioners were 
loath to part with my father, so much so that they refused to 
lend their farm-horses to take the furmture vans to the railway 
station. They said they were glad enough to help to fetch him, 
but they were not going to help to send him away My second 
sister and I each had as a present from Somerset a beloved cat. 
Mine was called Dinah, after a famous prototype, whilst my 
sister’s treasure bore the commonplace name of Tibbie Dinah 
had run through one of her nine lives when still in her kitten- 
hood, before she was given to me. She fell down the well in 
her cottage garden and was rescued in the bucket. Though 
always a spendthrift, she managed to make her remaining hves 
last over a goodly number of years. We could have no ammals 
at all in London, so that the entry of these two cats mto our 
home-life began a new epoch for us. 

Tedstone Delamere never seemed so remote and pnmitive 
as Compton Dundon, though at first Worcester was our nearest 
railway station, twelve imles distant. Later the railway came 
to Bromyard, and that was within walking distance, four miles 
by the fields and about five by road. There was no village, not 
even a pubhc-house, only scattered cottages in twos and threes, 
a few isolated farms, and the church away by itself, not even 
on the high road, quite ten minutes’ walk from the Rectory. 
The whole population of the parish was some 150 souls. The 
squire and his grown-up daughters were our only neighbours. 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


IS5 

To get to the station with luggage we had to hire a vehicle from 
Bromyard, for, to the end of our twenty years at Tedstone, we 
never possessed a carriage or a horse. 

The Rectory garden was very large, rambling off up a long 
drive m one direction, and down a ‘dmgle’ in another. It had 
a pond, various trees adapted to young climbers of all ages, and 
a spacious orchard, where the pigs and poultry took their open- 
air exercise, and where stood the stack of faggots necessary for 
heating the bnck oven wherein the family bread was baked 
every week. The gardener, who from his youth upwards had 
belonged to the Rectory garden, could neither read nor write. 
Perhaps that was why his eyesight was so keen that he could 
see a fox running across a field some miles away on the far side 
of the brook valley, much too far distant for him to shout 
directions to the huntsmen in pursmt, so he had to have the day 
off to go and help them. The pigs were his real pride and joy, 
but next to them he loved his vegetables We — or rather, he, 
as monarch of the garden — ^took so many prizes at the Bromyard 
Flower Show each year that the envious named it ‘George 
Bullock’s Show’, for indeed it was chiefly a vegetable Show. 
Our pickhng cabbages were surely the world’s best I ‘G. B.’ 
always planted two long rows of them, so that he could have 
a good selection to choose from when the great day approached. 
I presume that the pigs lived afterwards on the ‘also ran’. 

Attached to the church was a real old Parish Clerk, the type 
that knew all about every grave in the churchyard, and without 
whose loud Amen no service could be fitly conducted. Some 
of the verses of the Psalms might be rather too long and difficult, 
but with a brave leap he would head us all m at the finish with 
fine solemmty. He wore his hair m the style which is acquired 
by clipping It round a basin fitted on the head. He did not 
‘hold with’ doctors, and only rarely patronized one who lived 
at Tenbury. He walked there to consult him: it was about 
nme miles each way. He was also the village blacksmith, so he 
knew all that there was to be known about the whole country- 
side for many miles roimd. 



156 ROMANCE 

When we all left London my mother took upon herself the 
task of giving my sisters and me daily lessons, but we now 
needed more teaching than she had time to give, so a year or 
two after we came to Tedstone a resident governess was en- 
gaged. She had never been a governess before, and had no cut- 
and-dried methods, but she was a remarkably clever woman, 
and what she had learned she could teach to children. My 
mother taught her German, and she taught me. I began to 
learn German as a birthday treat when I was thirteen, and when 
I went to school at fifteen I was qmte up to the standard of the 
other girls of my age, in German as well as in all the ordinary 
school subjects required in those days Indeed, my mother 
sent her daughters to a boarding-school, not to learn lessons, 
but to meet other girls and make fnends, lest we should grow 
up to think our own little habits and ideas unique and infalhble. 
Lessons with our governess occupied two hours every morning 
and one in the afternoon, with an additional half-hour’s music- 
lesson. At twelve o’clock she took us for an hour’s walk, or we 
played by ourselves in the garden. As to our lesson-books, I 
can only now recall the outstanding ones: Mrs. Markham’s 
famous history, where two priggish children ask questions at 
the end of a chapter; the Child's Guide to Knowledge which 
had on the first page the question: ‘To what three diseases is 
wheat subject?’ Ans. ‘Blight, mildew, and smut’; and, lastly, 
the spelhng-book which began with ‘An’, and ended with ‘Anti- 
latitudinarianism’. It was a fat book, and I had to learn a page 
or two at a time, to be questioned thereon by my governess 
as I lay flat on my back on the dining-room hearth-rug, that 
position bemg supposed good for my very long back. We 
learned to commit dates to memory, to spell, to do sums, and 
conjugate French verbs, and what was moye important we 
learned to face drudgery, to shoulder responsibihty, and to go 
without thmgs we preferred, and put up with things we dis- 
liked. There is always that to be said for the old-fashioned 
methods of teaching children. Every week we had to learn the 
Collect and a hynm to repeat to my father on Simday. ' He 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


157 

chose for us good, time-honoured hymns, since he had a fine 
scorn for some more modern ones. He used to quote as an 
example of the latter type:^ 

An angel clad m white they see, 

Who sat and spake unto the three, 

‘Your Lord doth go to Galilee’ Alleluia l 

It even now surprises me to see people in church studiously 
conning their hymn-books for the words of old familiar favour- 
ites such as ‘Awake my soul’, or ‘Great God, what do I see and 
hear?’ 

In 1879, when I was fifteen, I was sent to a boarding-school 
at Malvern, where I was one of twenty-five boarders. It was, 
even then, rather an out-of-date t3q)e of school. The girls 
walked out in ‘crocodile’ formation, in threes, to avoid pre- 
occupied conversation between two friends. The walk lasted 
one hour. When we were sent into the garden we were only 
allowed to walk on such paths as could be covered by the eye 
of a teacher. Nothing was left to the honour of the girls. If 
a teacher was not always present they were expected to get into 
mischief, so of course they did whenever possible. My early 
letters home show how ‘cabm’d, cnbb’d, confined’ I felt at 
first, with so httle outdoor exercise, and under so much super- 
vision : 

May 8, 1879. Mamma, I hope I shall get on pretty 

well here though I feel very wretched and harassed at times, 
especially this afternoon. The governesses are all very kmd 
though Mdlle looks as if she could be very cross. The other 
girls are very kind and if I can get mto the way of the lessons 
soon I think I shall perhaps like school. We have no time to 
ourselves at all. We have generally J an hour to go m the garden 
after breakfast and also after dinner a walk from ii to twelve 
all the rest of the day till ^ past 8 lessons (except time for 
meals). I think that is plenty of lessons ’ [Apparently I had no 
time for ordinary pimctuation when writing letters.] In a later 


^ Hymns Ancient and Modern, No 130. 



ROMANCE 


158 

letter I wrote : ‘I don’t go out in the garden after breakfast any 
morning because I have to practise.’ May 15. ‘We went a 
walk this mormng along a road just under the hills, there was 
a very high wind and a nice slope of grass below I found it 
quite a restraint on my feelings to walk solemnly in a row ’ 
‘I have to lose a “conduct” mark today because I did not bring 
to Class a book that I ought to have brought. We have 3 marks 
for “Conduct”, 6 for “Order and Punctuality” 6 for “Neatness” 
if we do not lose any. We lose 2 if late for breakfast, i if we 
leave things about in the bedroom, or leave the drawers imtidy 
and such like things.’ We obeyed rules, but secretly among 
ourselves they were a subject for mockery and jest. My young 
fnends now will hardly beheve that any school could seriously 
set down in its code of laws: I. ‘No meddlmg endearments 
allowed. Real affection preferred ’ II. ‘No little notes written, 
or other mean subterfuges resorted to.’ However, my sisters 
and I had such a healthy home-hfe for body and mmd that the 
lack of fresh air, and proper training of character, made no 
impression on us. 

Except for French and German, the teaching in all subjects 
was very poor and inadequate But ‘Janet’ — as our Head 
Mistress was popularly called — ^talked m polysyllables, and had 
a majestic figure and carriage, all of which made a favourable 
impression on parents. She never impressed the girls with 
either respect or ‘real affection’. We secretly laughed at her 
pomposity, and were bored by the ceremony of having to kiss 
her at the foot of the front stairs on Sunday mghts. Current 
report said she had once remarked that she ‘disliked the 
nomenclature of Dickens’. If we wrote badly in note-books 
she would affix her signature to the words ‘Penmanship un- 
satisfactory’. On a certain page in my ‘Roister’, or mark- 
book, I once wrote ‘3 weeks to the Holidays!!!’ To this ‘Janet’ 
appended : ‘This is out of place in an exerase book’. She had 
absolutely no sympathy with young minds. There is a certam 
verse in the Psalms which always reinmds me vividly of my 
schooldays. When I hear it — ^as I did yesterday m that beautiful 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 159 

little country church in Old Marston village, reminiscent of 
my Herefoidshire parish church — ^fifty years slip away behind 
me • ‘The minstrels go before, and the singers follow after, in 
the midst are the damsels pla3nng with the timbrels.’ I see the 
picture of ‘Janet’s’ twenty-five boarders going up the front 
stairs to bed on a Sunday mght (It was a special Sunday 
ntual — on week-days we used the backstairs ) In front went 
the gaunt and stem form of the English mistress, and behind 
the careworn French lady The singing and timbrels have no 
counterpart in my picture, we seldom played at anything, and 
our teachers never sang, at any rate not for joy of heart, for they 
had none of the amemties of present-day hfe on a school staff. 
They had long hours and small salanes, and as we were never 
allowed to be alone, they could never be rid of us. The poor 
French lady succeeded m making us learn pages of rules — ^in 
French — about the use of the subjunctive, but she continually 
wore a harned and hopeless look, the result of having to listen 
all day to our hideous mutilation of her mother tongue There 
was a white-haired old lady who came in by the day to take part 
in the teaching of general subjects. She wore a cap, and in the 
afternoon when we were doing ‘preparation’ she put a large 
handkerchief over her face and went to sleep. One day when 
she was discoursing to us on the various scales and names of 
thermometers, to cover my ignorance under a cloak of silhness, 
I said: ‘Oh, well, I expect they just wrote down numbers on 
bits of paper, and shook them up in a bag, and then drew lots.’ 
Whereupon the old lady rose up like a major prophet and 
rebuked me for being *a scoffer’. Her mdignation was per- 
fectly genume; the draiving of lots was to her a sacred institu- 
tion because it was found in the Bible, therefore, to make fun 
of it was to be guilty of sin and wickedness. If she had ex- 
plained to me her point of view I was of an age to understand 
It, but to be branded as ‘a scoffer’ cut me to the quick. She 
seemed the embodiment of injustice and cruelty, and for weeks 
afterwards an involuntary shudder of repulsion ran through 
me whenever I met her. The incident sounds ludicrous now. 



i6o ROMANCE 

but it was to me then ternbly serious. I still have the long 
letter my father wrote to me saying: ‘You were not m the least 
approaching even the boundaries of anything “sacred” in your 
suggestion of this very secular and everyday process.’ We 
were taught Enghsh Literature by a dreary and disappomted 
curate, with a long grey beard. I expect ‘Janet’ secured his 
services as part payment for the adimssion of his two daughters 
as day-boarders. If he had any other qualifications for the post 
they were obscurely hidden imder a bushel of dullness. Science 
— ^that IS, the watered-down elements of it given to us in 
colourless doses — was admimstered once a week by a retired 
Major, presumably of the Volunteer Forces. In my day he was 
drawing his inspiration from some handbook on Geology I 
made spasmodic efforts to give a lighter touch to the notes 
which we had to write out tidily for him after each lecture. We 
had been hearing the names of fossils, so I wrote : ‘The ammon- 
ite may vary in size, from the size of a nose-nng to that of a 
bicycle-wheel.’ When my paper came back to me it bore the 
following criticism: ‘I do not know the size of a nose-nng, as 
I have never seen one In alluding to a bicycle-wheel, you 
should state whether you refer to the front wheel or to the 
back one.’ (It was, of course, the penod of the ‘penny- 
farthing’ machine.) Thus did my effort towards bnghter 
Geology fall flat under the pen of the honest Major. But I had 
my revenge, secretly, on the Enghsh Literature side. One 
mght when the youngest of the mistresses came to put out the 
lights, instead of finding five mcely-behaved schoolgirls tucked 
up m their beds, with their frocks and stockings in neat piles, 
behold the bedroom was a stage' Three Witches clad in red 
dressing-gowns, with streaming locks, and long bare arms, 
were ‘hand in hand’ going ‘about, about’ a coalscuttle, while, 
in heroic attitudes on the nearest bed, stood Macbeth and 
Banquo: ‘What are these, So wither’d and so wild in their 
attire?’ I had calculated on the audience recogmzing Art for 
Art’s sake, and she kmdly did. I remember the scene well, 
though I have forgotten all that the old curate told us about the 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA i6i 

meaning of ‘aroint’, or what a ‘rump-fed ronyon’ was supposed 
to be. 

Both my parents had been brought up to look on dancing as 
a dangerous, if not actually a sinful, pastime, but my mother, 
with her wide common sense, determined that ray sisters and 
I should learn dancing at school as a form of healthful bodily 
exercise. I disliked the dancing-class, because I could not 
master the mtncacies of quadrilles and the Lancers. I was 
extremely awkward at any sort of ‘steps’, and when the dancing- 
mistress hauled me out of the ranks to practise a polka or a 
mazurka with her in the middle of the room, all my fnends 
giggled. I was head and shoulders taller than my instructress, 
and I had anything but a ‘light fantastic toe’, so that it took 
me half my time to avoid tramphng on the lady. On these 
occasions I wondered why she had ghttermg specks among 
the golden hair upon which I looked down. I did not know 
then that she was poor, and afraid lest schoolmarms would 
cease to employ a grey-haired woman. I think I did pity her 
the day when, m my elephantme prancings, I trod an ornamental 
button off her shoe. She taught us besides a few maidenly 
gymnastic exercises, and how to come in at a door, shake hands 
with her, and then take a seat, gracefully, as befitted ‘yoimg 
ladies’ of the period. At home we none of us went to dances, 
either then or afterwards, distances were too great, and we had 
no fine evemng dresses. I have never been to a dance in my 
life, nor felt it to be a deprivation. 

Now that we hved permanently in the country, our home- 
life as a family was imbroken by visits to the seaside or else- 
where. When we were all seven at home, during hohdays, we 
had plenty of fun where we were. We took long walks, we 
played tennis, in the winter we skated. There were chickens 
and ducks to tend, and at all seasons the garden provided occu- 
pation siuted to any age or taste. In the long wmter everangs 
my father read aloud to us — ^Dickens, Thackeray, Disraeh, and 
the hke — whilst my sisters and I sewed. Later, when my 
father’s sight was somewhat weaker, we had instead to play 

T 



z6z ROMANCE 

a ngid game of whist with him. But to the end he always read 
to us, morning and evemng, at Family Prayers, a chapter of the 
beautiful English prose of the Authorized Version of the Bible ; 
the Old Testament m the morning and the New at mght. 
This in Itself formed no small part of our education. We had 
ample resources, time never hung on our hands, and we never 
thought the country dull, or pined for town excitements. But 
I must not forget here that we were blessed above many 
children of to-day, in that we were a large family. In a home 
where the family is large, and means small, useful virtues grow 
up unawares In childhood it is the pleasure of it which strikes 
one most, in later hfe one sees the richer blessings. A fnend 
told me once that when she commended somebody for having 
an unselfish character, the reply was: ‘That’s no credit to me. 
I was one of sixteen.’ 

I left school m 1882 and settled down qmetly at home. I 
kept up some reading of French and German, I arranged the 
flowers, and generally filled the part of eldest daughter, doing 
nothmg worthy of record. I acted as organist in church on 
Simday. It was an extremely small organ, with only one 
manual and six stops, and the choir consisted of a mere handful 
of children, bo3rs and girls. I took them through the hymns 
for half an hour before the afternoon service on Sundays. The 
parish clerk and the congregation would have thought it 
savoured of ‘popery’ if we had tned to chant the Psalms or 
responses. Thus the duties of organist and choir-mistress were 
very light 

In trymg to recall the early part of my life, it is in my home 
surroundings that I trace the sources of the real abiding in- 
fluences. My schooldays remain as a senes of mcidents, 
amusing now, but tedious or vexatious thenj^ A few pleasant 
girl-fnends remained, but otherwise the School left no stamp 
on my existence, either for good or ill. The only thing I can 
say about it is that I have always regretted that I could never 
look back on my School with the affection and reverence I have 
often seen and envied in other girls and women. Many years 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 163 

after I was married, I was talking to a lady at an Oxford dinner- 
party about my difficulties as a student m coping with the 
weekly essays on English Literature, demanding an extent of 
reading impossible to cover in the time. As an instance of this, 
I said that in my first term I was told one week to cnticize 
Addison’s views on Paradise Lost, and I owned I had never 
before then read Addison’s Essays, or Paradise Lost ‘Cunous’, 
remarked the lady, ‘only the other day I met a girl who had 
come up to Oxford like that, without having had any previous 
education.’ The funous indignation I felt at the moment, and 
which graved the remark on my memory, was not on behalf of 
my School I rose up in arms to defend my parents and home. 
Though the home that counts most in my life was an isolated 
country rectory, my father was by no means of the proverbial 
type one hears spoken of in Oxford, ‘the country parson’ that 
swarms up to Convocation in response to the bugle cry of ‘the 
Church is in danger’, bent on obstructing some new scheme 
for University reform He was an excellent talker, and the 
conversation we were accustomed to hear between our parents, 
or when some fnend or relation stayed in the house, was in 
Itself educative There was no parish gossip or shallow cnti- 
cism of our neighbours My father was greatly interested in 
folk-lore and dialect, and would expound to us superstitions 
he had come across m his pastoral visits. Those were days 
when country folk would not lock the door of the house where 
any one lay dead ; and if it was the master of the house who had 
passed away, they would go and ‘tell the bees’ We heard of 
any new dialect word he had picked up, and he was fond of 
puzzling out the etymology of place-names Thus long before 
I met Joseph Wnght I had begun to be interested in the lan- 
guage of the coijntry-side Then, too, it was from my father’s 
talk that we learned many things about Church and State. He 
had known great figures of his time at Oxford and in London. 
We used to hear about the Oxford Movement, and of the stir 
made by ‘Tract No. 90’ — concermng which he would add the 
story of the bookseller who wrote to a would-be purchaser ; ‘We 



i 64 romance 

regret that we cannot supply you with a tract entitled No Go.’ 
We also heard a good deal about elementary education in pre- 
School-board days. From an ecclesiastical standpoint, I suppose 
my father would be accounted a Broad Churchman. He cer- 
tainly had a brotherly attitude towards Dissent, perhaps because 
It was m his blood, but more because he took a wide-minded 
view of Chnstiamty, and set little store by forms and cere- 
momes. It was a favourite dictum of his that the office of a 
clergyman should be that of ‘mmister’ to his people, and not of 
‘lord and master’. He preached simple Christianity and up- 
nghtness, and sought to spread knowledge of the Bible, rather 
than to enforce the observance of doctrine and ntual. And — 
last but not least — ^there were the practical advantages we 
gained from a simple, country up-brmging; both mdoors and 
out we learnt to see things and do things I always hke to say 
I was taught to act on the principle contained m the maxim, 
‘If you want a thing done, do it yourself’. 

From 1882 onwards I was leading a very easy and pleasant 
life, though uneventful, and rather useless. The great turmng- 
pomt in my existence occurred at the end of 1886. On 
December 23 of that year Miss Sophie Weisse came to stay for 
a fortmght at our remote Rectory home. She was the elder 
sister of a Rugby schoolfellow and fnend of my youngest 
brother. She had often shown great kindness to the latter, and 
now my mother felt she would hke, on her side, to show this 
yet unlmown lady some hospitality. Sophie Weisse was then 
about thirty-five. A bom teacher, and altogether a great per- 
sonahty, she had made her own way by teaching from the early 
age of sixteen. Her subsequent school at Northlands, Englefield 
Green, is too well known to need further description here. 
I was at once strongly attracted by her. She took my heart by 
storm, and I was consaous of a compelling force for good m 
all her influence over me. She told me I had brains and was 
letting them rust away in idleness. My two younger sisters 
had now both left school, and there was obviously not enough 
to do either m the house or the pansh for three grown-up 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 165 

daughters. She did not urge me to leave home, or do anything 
contrary to the wishes of my parents, she simply made me feel 
that I ought to learn something more, and aim at more profitable 
emplojrment of my time and such talents as I possessed (It 
will be seen later how she agam took a prominent part in my 
personal history.) I then, by her advice, approached my father, 
and asked him to let me join some Correspondence Classes To 
my intense surprise, after thinkmg the question over, he said 
that if I was senously minded to continue my education, he 
would send me up to Oxford to Lady Margaret Hall A clencal 
fnend of his had had daughters there, and had given the place 
a favourable recommendation. I had always looked upon my 
father as an ardent disciple of St. Paul in the matter of the 
subjection of women, but now he was of his own accord open- 
ing for me gates of independence. Hitherto I had had no 
money allowance, but now he told me he was ready to put ,£50 
a term in the Old Bank at Oxford for my use. The term’s fees 
for Lady Margaret Hall were then ^25 My Lecture fees, paid 
to the A.E.W., ranged from 3(^3 los. to los. per term (I have 
beside me the account-book which shows everything I spent 
dunng the whole of my course at Oxford, even down to such 
Items as a halfpenny toll at Ifiley Mill.) The goodly balance to 
my credit at the end of each term sufficed later to give me many 
extra weeks in Oxford after I had ‘gone down’. 

On May 27, 1887, my mother and I went for the day to 
Oxford to see Lady Margaret Hall and the Pnncipal, l^ss 
Wordsworth It was settled that I should take an entrance 
examination, and, provided that I passed this, I should come 
up m October. These entrance papers were sent to me to do 
at home at the end of July. I had six papers m all: Euchd, 
Arithmetic, French and German grammar and translation. On 
August 19 I had the satisfaction of heanng from the Vice- 
Pnncipal that I had passed, so, on Monday, October 17 , 1 took 
up my residence as a student at Lady Margaret Hall. 

To complete the picture I have tried to paint of my early life 
and surroundings, I quote here two letters, one from each of 



i66 


ROMANCE 


my parents. These show, without further words of mine, the 
spirit m which they sped me forth on this new venture. First, 
my mother’s letter: 

October i8 1887. 

Your welcome letter came this morning, and we hope for 
another tomorrow that we may hear of your reception and 
prospects. 

I am thankful for your safe and uneventful journey, and that 
you seem in good spirits to begin your new life — ^it is a grand 
thing for you — ^and you must feel ever grateful to your Father, 
and chiefly to your Heavenly Father, for your life and health, 
and this new blessing of enlarged means of improving your- 
self and thereby of greater usefulness to others. I will not ask 
questions as you will know all we want to know. Your Father 
asks me many more questions than I can answer about the 
house, etc. He is extremely mterested m everything . . . We 
rejoiced in the lovely sunshme for your journey — ^the country 
here was far more beautiful than I can descnbe . . . Do not 
forget daily Bible reading, and pray for us at home. 

Your ever loving Mother, 

E C. Lea. 

Tedstone Delamere Rectory, Sapey Bridge, Worcester. 

October ifyth, 1887. 

My dear Lizzie, 

Your letter is hke one of Tom’s : I have read it through three 
times, as I read his: and shall read it again: and I begm to 
realize that you have actually entered on the Oxford life. The 
‘name over the door’ is especially typical, and yet perhaps 
there is a difference: for ‘Mr. Lea’ is of a Don — ^the ‘man’ is 
‘Lea’ if one, ‘F. S. Lea’ if more than one. Sq ‘Mm’ should by 
analogy be of the ‘Donna’ : yet I suppose you are not barely 
sumamed. 

Another vivid Oxford touch is Miss Tait’s piece of paper in 
the photograph frame. We used to put these notes where they 
were sure to be seen. I am very much pleased at Miss Tait’s 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 167 

calling — ^if you ever see her, and can find a chance to, tell her 
of my love and reverence for the Archbishop — ^Bishop as he was 
to me all through his London Episcopate &c. 

The water-colour m my study looks, I believe, straight from 
my Wadham window over to Lady Margaret Hall There was 
no Norham, and no Museum, then, and the small house is one 
just beyond where the footpath along the ‘Keble* side of the 
Park (of course there was no ‘Keble’ then), comes out into the 
Summertown or Bicester road I want to know how L.M.H. 
hes as regards the road northward from Wadham, I suppose 
your way mto Oxford — ^1 e. to the Schools, Bodleian &c — ^hes 
southward along that road between Keble (on the west) and the 
Museum (east) then between St. John’s & Trinity Gardens 
(west) & Wadham (east). . . . 

This is perfect October Term weather, such as m sunset- 
skies & foliage my water-colour (Dr Codrington was the 
artist) represents. 

Oxford to me was the opening-out of my life: so, I trust, it 
may be for you. But you will find, as I found, that the more 
your horizon of thought & knowledge expands, the greater will 
be felt to be the vast region beyond. Your Mother says that 
you are going m for ‘Enghsh Literature’. I think you will want 
to go outside that limit. The Amencan who was afraid to go 
out of his Hotel (in England) at night lest he should get to the 
outside of the island without knowmg it and fall over into the 
sea was a prophet in his way, and there was a truth wrapped up 
in his conceit. 

Do not trouble yourself about not knowing how to set to 
work. Go to your lectures • take it for granted that the lecturer 
knows what he is about, and take the best notes you can Never 
min d whether you understand the lecture or not — that will 
come, as my Math^ematical Tutor told me : and it did. In my 
time a College Lecture meant, on the face of it, listenmg for 
I of an hour to a lot of undergraduates construing wrong. But 
for all that, even in the dullest lecture, there were the tutor’s 
corrections, & notes to make. 



i68 ROMANCE 

Now, you have lectures to listen to ; & the lecturer, if he is 
experienced, knows the blunders into which his audience are 
likely to fall, and guards against them by anticipation. We had 
some such lectures in my time — some in College, some by the 
Professors. 

However, the speaal benefit of the Oxford hfe is that you 
learn, if you use it worthily, the Oxford fiSos This is ethos, 
and is untranslatable It is mental & moral habit — ^tone — 
culture (highfiii as compared with higher), and a great deal 
besides. There is a great element of reverence in it : without 
reverence the product will be the ‘prig'. I don’t quite know 
that reverence /or the past can be directly cultivated in the 
Norham region; but when you can get leave & a companion, 
go past Wadham & All Souls, down the High, round Magdalen 
Walks (if they will let you, & if not, then) from Magdalen into 
Christ Church Meadows, with Merton, Corpus, & Chnst 
Church to look at: & then get into the High again between 
Corpus & Merton & past Onel. Then you will see what the 
‘sermons in stones’ are, which teach how the Spint of God has 
been gmdmg the leammg, & so the teaching, of the past — & 
that ‘reverence for the past’ means seeing God m History i.e. 
Our Lord m the ordenng of man’s life — : I think this truth 
comes out in visible symbolism more at Oxford than anywhere 
for Oxford is not a dead ruin, like Olinda at Pernambuco — 
Oxford is alive as it always was alive, bigots, semor fellows, 
pngs, & blazing ‘jerseys’ notwithstanding, — ^and it will hve: 
‘Dominus Illuminatio mea.’ 

Very affect*^ 'f father, 

F. S. Lea. 

The days when a woman student was looked upon as ‘a blue- 
stockmg’ are now so long past that one has to explain the 
epithet to the present generation. When I went up to Oxford 
I was told that undergraduates — ^the word then, and for long 
afterwards, signified men students only — spoke of Lady Mar- 
garet Hall as the ‘Red, White, and Blue’. The ongmal buildmg 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


169 

was a very ordinary white brick villa, to which — ^before my 
time — ^had been added an extension built of red brick. The 
‘Blue’, of course, was inside. There were m 1887 twenty-five 
students in the Hall. The ‘third-year’ semors happened to be 
a very stiff and exclusive set. With the exception of Miss Annie 
Sellar, who afterwards became my greatest fnend, they were all 
much yoimger in age than I was, but in dignity of standing they 
were many generations above me. We juniors called them ‘the 
Oligarchy’. Amongst them was Gertrude Bell. I cannot, how- 
ever, claim any reflected glory for havmg been a contemporary 
of this famous lady, for probably she hardly ever spoke to me. 

The Women’s Colleges at that date were practically only 
Hostels, all our work was arranged for us by Mrs Arthur 
Johnson, the Secretary to the A.E.W. I had decided to take 
English for my Final Examination, but as a prelimmary, I must 
pass what was called the ‘First Examination for Women’. I 
possess a parchment certificate which records : ‘ In the Examma- 
tion held the 13 th day of December in the year 1887 Elizabeth 
Mary Lea satisfied the Examiners in French, German, Arith- 
metic and Euclid’, signed by Henry T. Gerrans, Secretary to 
the Delegacy. As I wnte now, thinkmg of the Taylor Institu- 
tion as the centre of Joseph Wnght’s University activities, it 
interests me to note at the foot of my old time-table : ‘Place 
of Examination, Taylor Building, St. Giles’.’ Mrs. Johnson 
informed me that my papers for the Hall Entrance Examina- 
tion showed a sufficiently high standard for the First Examina- 
tion, so that except for a httle further work at arithmetic and 
the two Books of Euclid, I was, in my first term, to give my 
time to Enghsh. I did keep up my French and German, but 
without ofldcial supervision. 

The English Jlonours course for Women was just then 
undergoing radical changes. Whereas the ‘Language’ part of 
it had hitherto been merely an empty name. Professor Napier 
was now giving lectures on Germanic and Old English 
Philology, and Historical Grammar, and some knowledge of 
these subjects — ^together with certain texts m Old and Middle 


z 



lyo ROMANCE 

English — ^had become obligatory. There was still, however, in 
my first year, no class-teaching m Old Enghsh at all. That was 
to come later. Nearly all my lectures were m the afternoon, for 
there were no Professors of Enghsh Literature, and we sat at 
the feet of benevolent histonans, wilhng to devote a few spare 
hours to the cause of women studymg their native tongue. 
Tutors I had none. It has ever been to me a source of the 
utmost pnde to remember that my pastors and masters were 
all scholars of name and fame — ^Professor Napier, Professor 
York Powell, Professor Firth (now Sir Charles Firth), Mr. 
O. M. Edwards, Dr. Joseph Wright Our lecturers recom- 
mended books we should read, we wrote essays which they 
corrected, and returned to us with suggestive notes and criti- 
cism. In the Hall I was given help and advice by ‘second-year’ 
students from their own expenence. I often think too much is 
done for the modem girl. We were obliged to learn to work for 
ourselves, and to stand on our own two feet. It was a difficult 
but invaluable lesson. I would not, if I could, change places 
with a woman student of to-day, neither m her work nor in her 
play. To the girl of to-day, Lady Margaret Hall would seem 
hke a nunnery as it was then, with its strict rules and the 
‘chaperon’ demanded by Mrs. Grundy at every turn. But we 
were very happy; we had come there to work; our numbers 
were small, more like a family than an Institution, and we had, 
above all, the lasting pnvilege of having Miss Wordsworth for 
our Principal. 

My father wrote me several letters in my first term, some of 
which are perhaps worth quoting for their reawakened memones 
of Oxford as he knew it m the ’forties of last century, and for 
their academic advice to me. 

Oftober zgth. 1887. 

... I recommend you to join the Architectural Society — ^at 
least if It is not so dismal as it, or its namesake, used to be. It 
had a room down Holywell: shared I think with a Musical 
institution : & all the walls were covered with ‘rubbmgs’ of 
brasses — one seemed to be in a temple of chimney-sweeps. 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 171 

We said ‘Holywell’, as we said ‘the High’, ‘the Broad’, ‘the 
Turl’, ‘the Com’, and ‘St. Old’s’ (not St. Aldate’s) — other 
‘streets’, if there were any, we called streets : there was ‘Beau- 
mont Street’ but that was on the way to ‘Worcester College, 
near Oxford’ But practically ‘the Turl’ & all but the two 
sank into infenority: 

I am the Dean of Ch Ch , Sir, 

This IS my wife: look well at her* 

She IS ‘The Broad’ : I am ‘The High’ 

We are ‘the Umversity’ 

is strictly m accordance with historical tradition. Have you 
seen Dr. Liddell ? He is very stately. 

Shnmpton’s is, or was, on the South side of the Broad a few 
doors below the Turl — ^i.e west of Parker’s I am glad you go 
to Umversity Sermons & appreciate the procession. You seem 
to me to have been in a seat m the South Aisle, where ladies 
used to be. East of the pulpit, in the nave, were the B A.s, 
west, the Masters • opposite, the Heads & Doctors : over whom 
were the undergraduates m the North Gallery, who were also 
m the West Gallery. 

Now over the Nave pillars on the South side at the sprmg of 
each arch is an Angel, and all the Angels have shields, except 
the Angel over the pulpit. He has no shield, but shghtly 
spreads his hands ; & the effect is very beautiful as seen from 
the floor of the Church, which is the position whence he was 
meant to be looked at He was never meant to be studied from 
a gallery, and from the opposite gallery where undergraduates 
abide — ^if you can ever mount the stairs on a week day when the 
Church IS empty — ^you will see. 

This Angel, tradition reports, once had a shield like the rest: 
but when he first, heard a Umversity Sermon he threw it at the 
preacher’s head; & he appears with his hands just in position 
after discharging it. 

My High Church fnends used to hold the tradition m a 
shghtly altered form: they said that it was on the occasion of 
the first Protestant Sermon m the Umversity pulpit. 



ROMANCE 


172 

I hope you will be able to go into Wadham, & see the Hall & 
Chapel & gardens. I ought to have written ‘Chapel’ first, of 
course : where you will find the little whale who used to look 
at me as I sat in the jumor freshman’s comer, this term 40 years 
ago — ^he has imld blue eyes. 

As both my Chiefs — ^Thorley of Wadham & Watson of 
Brasenose — are bachelors though they are of my standing & 
nearly of my own age, I cannot exactly ask them to introduce 
you to their Colleges . but I hope somehow you will get to know 
them. Wadham gardens are very beautiful m the October 
Term & the old College grave-yard, or lawn lying between the 
Chapel & hbrary with the Cloister opemng upon it, gives one 
of the most beautiful effects in College architecture. 

Very affect*’’ father, 

F. S. Lea. 

Dec 5th. 1887. 

We all admire your L.M H. notepaper’ crest, motto, & all. 
‘Ex solo ad Solem’ — well, I hope you will, from Miss Weisse’s 
report of your room : only not quite ‘to the garret’, as you are 
not quite ‘from the basement’. At any rate Lady Margaret does 
not approve of the Byromc femmine career, ‘Bom in the garret, 
in the kitchen bred ’ 

This quotation, you will observe, is meant to ‘lead up to’ 
Byron; who as you probably know instmcts you to ‘believe in 
Pope’ And yet in some ways Byron is far above Pope. You 
cannot read ‘The Dunciad’ it is unreadable, intolerable But 
Byron’s ‘Dunciad’, or rather his advance upon it, ‘English 
Bards and Scotch Reviewers’, bitter as it may be, stands on a 
far higher level, both of poetry and refinement. There is 
scarcely a hne (I will not say there is not a linOj, for there may be 
one or two) which I could not read aloud to your Mother & 
sisters . & all the while Byron is praising Pope as his instmctor 
& model. 

But the early part of the 17th century was — ^what shall I 
say? — ^piggish. There is virtue m a pig-sty, or to be got out of 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 173 

It. G. B. would accept the first clause of the alternative, and 
your Mother the second But it isn’t a nice place to hve in. 

Swift, a great friend of Pope’s & a brilliant writer, was a pig 
as gross as ever G B. hung up by the snout & weighed in 
tnumph. 

I hope your fnend Miss Jackson, ‘who is going in for Honours, 
Sc so is safe to pass\ will remember the old time-honoured 
fallacy, & not be misled by it, or into it. It was the great swells 
— ^the scholars of promise, the hghts of the Final Schools, who 
used to get ploughed for Smalls — ^they thought they could 
‘take in’ Euclid or Logic by the hght of nature, — & the Exami- 
ners didn’t. By way of propitiating Nemesis, I would advise 
all Honours-yoimg-ladies before going m for what now answers 
to Smalls, humbly to say the Multiphcation-table to each other 

As for yourself, read your books, go over any specially hard 
problems once or twice besides the general reading, & never 
mind the Examiners You are sure to do very well, & what the 
Examiners may think is a secondary consideration. I went in 
for, or rather read for, Smalls in some trepidation: but when I 
actually went into the Smalls Schools their smallness appeared 
to me in the clearest light, and I had no fear whatever I knew 
I should get through as soon as I saw the papers, & so will you. 

But I do not recommend that 7 45 tram the next mommg : 
you should get a good mght, & be as lazy as L.M.H. allows: 
‘ad solem’ anyhow is not possible till after 8 o’clock on that 
mommg. 

I forgot when I wrote to you last to tell you that the Bishop 
of Chester’s substitute in the Umversity Pulpit had revived a 
venerable ‘Joe Miller’ (in the phrase of a past Enghsh genera- 
tion — ^in modern Amencan slang it is ‘Chestnuts’). The man 
ought to have known the old story — ^‘Art thou he that should 
come? &c.’ But the inadent shows that these old stones very 
often all have been founded on fact. 

I don’t understand your ‘rouge’ & ‘evenmg costume’ at the 
play. I thought you were a 90Aa§ or Greek guardsman m a 
helmet, & should have been prepared for burnt cork. 



174 ROMANCE 

My memones all come back with your description of getting 
into the Cathedral. It is a ‘Pusey Crush’ over agam I suppose 
it was at the mam South door, where they open, or opened, 
half the door first, & then could not get the other half open for 
the crush. ‘I hope you are not very much hurt, Sir’ said an old 
gentleman up from the country to me on one of these occasions 
The path of wisdom lay by a httle door in the cloister a httle 
further East . you got m quietly : had to stand, it is true, but you 
had no nbs broken. 

Very affect*’' 'f father, 

F. S. Lea. 

December 12th, 1887. 

Examinations out of term-time are like Ladies’ Colleges : a 
thing unknown to the Oxford of my day. It was very pleasant, 
staying up in Vacations to read: men all got on one staircase 
and dmed etc. m each other’s rooms. 

You will find ways of making the best of it ‘ you will have 
your ‘new people’ housed: and this is my advice for tomorrow : 
the day before the examination begins’ — Don’t ‘read’ at all: 
give an ‘entertainment’ if you can, and especially if you can 
secure any of the ‘new people’ come up to matriculate at 
L.M.H Get m things from the confectioner’s — over and above 
the ‘plain hving’ of 3/6 per day, and adjourn the ‘high thmking’ 
which 50 years ago was associated with the ‘plain living’ m the 
theory (I am not quite sure about the practice) of the Onel 
Common Room It is the worst of winter examinations that 
you cannot lounge out of doors, as I did in preparation for my 
Greats, or as you now say ‘Finals’. I have on my shelves now 
the httle MS. book of ‘hard words’ which I took up Shotover 
way with another man, and we lay on the grass overlooking 
Horspath and at unfrequent mtervals tned each other with the 
contents. I am rather astomshed to find that I must have 
thought ‘amphisbaena’ an easy word: for it is not in the book 
(I write it in Latm, but it was Greek in my ‘books’) — ^The next 
time I heard of the creature was when Tom found it crawling 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 175 

about the other side of the world, and I knew it was an old 
friend. 

But you cannot take a long walk tomorrow, and the air is raw 
besides If the men are mostly gone down you may get about 
Oxford — I should go to the Umon : but that you cannot. Any- 
how don’t read and don’t let your friends read. 

‘Mrs. Johnson’ plays the part of the traditional College Cook 
excellently. We used, you know (I don’t mean I, for I didn’t: 
It was the pass men, and the fast men, and the slow men) to 
spend much of our valuable time at breakfasts and wines 
abusing the ‘lectures’ and the Dons generally in their capacity 
of teaching machines It was not very wise, but ‘men’ id it, 
you know, tn-college. Not the thing among out-college men* 
a man who broke that rule was a cad. 

Well, the Cook was sent for by the Vice Pnnapal, or 
Sub-Warden, or whatever the title in that college was, — 

‘Mr. I am sorry to have to tell you that the young men 

complam of your diimers : they say that they are not fit to eat, 
and . .’ 

The Cook: ‘Well, now, Mr. Vice-Pnncipal, those young 
men will say anything. Would you believe it. Sir? That’s just 
what they come and say to me about your lectures' Don’t you 
mmd It, Sir, any more than me.’ 

So, nowadays, the ‘girls’ go to Mrs. Johnson. 

I am interested about Mr. Harrison, your ‘old man’ against 
whom ‘a Mr. Parker’ arose. That indefimte article is his 
revenge, for surely Mr. Parker is the inheritor of the great 
Architectural as well as book-selhng name. But for Mr. Ham- 
son, — can he be, yet I think he must be, the Gold Poker? 
mdeed, the one sohtary survivor of those ancient and stately 
dignitaries, as I pow see with deep sorrow? For there were 
Three Gold Pokers in my day, and they represented the great 
Faculties, Divimty, Arts, and Law. Medicine was fain to hang 
on to Arts, both m Gold and Silver Pokerhood. And now (my 
last Calendar is 1883, mind you bring home this year’s) 
Divimty has no Silver Poker (what does the Vice-Chancellor?) 



176 ROMANCE 

and Medicine succeeds to the honour. And W. W. Harnson, 
M.A. of Brasenose is the only Gold Poker left, and he repre- 
sents Diviiuty and Law. It is very melancholy. 

Harnson the Gold Poker is probably not so old as I am by 
a year or two (B.A. 1848) and he was a very good looking young 
MA. The greatest and most dignified of the trio was George 
Valentine Cox of New, who died some years since, much 
obituanzed. He was Schoolmaster of the New Choristers. 

But Oxford with no Gold Poker left except Harnson of 
Brasenose, and he tremblmg before Mr. Parker of the Archi- 
tectural Society throwmg ‘loose stones’ at his head is too much 
for me, and I am 

Very affectionately your father, 

F. S. Lea. 

P.S. Never imnd the examiners. There is an old examiner 
whom I used much to fear: he comes to Hereford m a brown 
wig : he is about 80 : and he wore the same, or a, brown wig at 
Oxford 40 years ago. 

It is clear from my termmal reports, and from entries in my 
diary, that neither my teachers nor I found my work at English 
Literature hopeful or inspinng. My ‘Collections’ reports said: 
‘Both knowledge and style defective’, ‘cntical remarks are 
extremely weak, and she makes some bad mistakes’, and the 
hke. The diary records: Jan. 17, 1888, ‘Despaired over my 
work’, Feb. 9. ‘Got thoroughly muddled over Addison paper.’ 

Apr. 30. ‘Went with to tea with Mr. and Mrs. Firth to 

have my collection paper looked over. Mr. Firth kindly, but 
said my paper was not exact enough, and told me to cultivate 
composition. Felt a bit discouraged.’ June 15. ‘Mr. Firth’s 
lecture. He walked back with us to talk about reading in the 
Long. I was morbid and cross, and said I did not want to read 
anything, bemg discontented with my style of work.’ The 
lectures I really enjoyed were Professor Napier’s, though much 
of them I could only put mto a note-book, m faith and hope 
that some day I should understand what I was writing down. 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 177 

He set us no papers, and so gave us no collections or terminal 
reports. Like Joseph Wright, he had had his training in Philo- 
logy in Germany. He was extraordinarily clear and precise, 
and wrote all his philological forms on the black-board, or gave 
us copies of neatly tabulated lists which we could take home 
and keep. I remember now being thrilled by heanng what the 
name ‘Canterbury’ meant; and exactly how when ‘a certam 
woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head’, she 
‘all to brake’ his skull; and why we are told that Jacob ‘sod’ 
pottage mstead of hailing it. His detailed notes on the Beowulf 
and on the set texts in Middle English were models of scientific 
accuracy and method, and formed a storehouse of wealth to 
me when I became a teacher myself. Professor York Powell’s 
lectures on Middle Enghsh were not hnguistic at all My note- 
books and interleaved texts are scrap-albums of jottings con- 
cermng social life and manners, notes on historical allusions, 
and illustrations of medieval dress, armour, and weapons. He 
seemed to be an inexhaustible mine of information of this kmd. 
We often digressed into a wild wilderness of puzzhng names 
belongmg to heroes of ‘the Arabic Renaissance’. Who they 
were, or to what they gave new birth, I have never known to 
this day. I could not spell or pronounce their names, so I 
asked no questions of my lecturer. He was an impressive 
figure, big and broad, weanng a black velvet coat, and a loose 
red tie. He was supposed to lecture to us at 2.30, but he was 
always late, and sometimes he never came at all. It was bad 
enough on a hot summer afternoon to have to sit and take notes 
in that stuffy httle room, but to wait there for a lecture that 
failed to matenahze was a grievance that the lapse of forty-odd 
years has not wholly obhterated. He was very shy of us, and 
burned away in ^ilence when his lecture was over. He was 
stopped one day, at the end of term, by an Amencan friend of 
mine. When she jomed us again, she remarked blandly: ‘I 
observe as a trait IVith the final t pronounced] of the English 
character, that an Enghshman will not stand still to be 
thanked.’ 



178 


ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


II STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT. 

It was in October 1888, when Joseph Wright had been ap- 
pointed to the staff of the A.E.W., that serious class-teaching 
on the Language side of the English syllabus began. It was 
the beginning of a new era for us. We had never been severely 
questioned before. Joseph Wnght was then barely thirty- 
three, but he wore a very long and massive beard, and looked 
at least fifty to the timorous damsels seated in front of him. 
He called us ‘Madam’, and chid us if we were five minutes late. 
‘Madam, when it comes to be your wedding, you will be late. 
The bridegroom will be there, and you won’t be in time ; and 
he won’t wait!’ is one of his sayings well known to succeeding 
generations of his pupils. On our papers he wrote in large 
letters ‘Not enough’, or he would strike out whole answers; 
and — sorest blow of all — he sometimes added in the margm 
the awful word ‘Horndl’ I never attained to his highest mark 
of approval, which was ‘Thank you’. We had to learn to be 
concise as well as accurate, for if our papers tended to be long 
and diffuse, we were told that he ‘didn’t want a family Bible!’ 
He gave us these classes twice a week — ^Tuesdays and Fridays — 
on Old English Grammar and Sweet’s Reader. He must have 
taught us the first day not to say ‘Anglo-Saxon’, for I notice 
this term is never repeated in my diary. He was very generous 
with his time, and gave us good measure pressed down and 
running over the statutable hour. I read in my diary. ‘Dr. 
Wright’s lecture, at which, as usual he kept us late’ ; and again : 
‘Dr. Wnght’s lecture from 12 to 1.30 ’ He did not give us any 
paper-work to do for him till the third week of term, by which 
time we were expected to have learnt somethmg. It was im- 
mediately after I had sent in my first paper that I received my 
first letter from him. It was a great surpnse to me. I had been 
up a whole year, and not one of my teachers had ever addressed 
a personal letter to me, or ventured to criticize my work thus 
in the manner of an mdignant schoolmaster, albeitwith a kmdly 
heart for the weaknesses of small boys! Here is the letter: 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 179 

Dear Miss Lea, '***• 

I am returning your paper by this post in the hope that you 
may possibly find time to look it through carefully and to think 
over the serious mistakes it contains before Tuesday. 

In the scientific study of languages, it is just as important 
to stnve after absolute accuracy, as it is in Mathematics or any 
other branch of science. I always expect all answers, whether 
verbal or written, to be very exact and to the point, because it 
is only by adhering ngidly to this principle that students can 
learn anything from me which will be of lasting benefit to them. 

Please don’t let the result of your first paper discourage you. 
Perseverance and patience form great factors in study After 
pointing out to you in this way once for all how important it 
is to be very accurate, I feel sure your wntten work will be 
quite satisfactory m the future. 

I have preferred to write to you rather than to feel myself 
obliged to say much about these things in class on Tuesday. 

Two of the other students’ papers are equally bad. 

Yours truly, 

J. Wright 

The corresponding entry in my diary is as follows: Oct. 29. 
‘Letter from Dr. Wnght. Read Sweet and O.E. Grammar, 
after Dr. Wright’s letter of abuse of my paper, a letter which 
caused general amusement.’ I then and there gummed the 
document on to the fly-leaf of my note-book, where it remained 
for the next two years. Great was my joy and satisfaction when 
I foimd it a few weeks ago, in this year of grace 1930, stored 
away under lock and key in an old forgotten desk. 

The numbers atten^g the Old English Class rapidly 
dwindled. Girls, who had no leaning towards ‘the scientific 
study of languages’ quailed under the eye of Joseph Wright, 
and drifted off to other less arduous paths of learmng. I 
quailed too, but I was determined not to retreat. I felt that he 
had me aheady in his grip, and though I often dehberately put 
aside my Old Enghsh Grammar, and vowed to myself that I 



i8o ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

would not give so much time to it, I realized that I was being 
taught as I had never been taught before, and that under this 
new teacher I was learmng not merely a subject set for an 
examination, but learning how to work at no matter what sub- 
ject. All my Literature work improved, though I gave fewer 
hours to It than before. I was by no means cowed by the letter, 
as IS evident from the next entnes in my diary: Nov. 2 
‘Dr. Wnght’s lecture, much more pleasant than usual’, 
Nov. 9. ‘Dr. Wnght’s lecture, much mcer than on Grammar 
days’; Nov. 13. ‘Dr Wright’s lecture, whereat he was much 
more agreeable, quite a reformed bemg ’ I worked my hardest 
It is true that I became increasingly interested m the subject, 
but there also arose in me a definite fighting spmt. I meant to 
stand up to this new teacher, despite his great strength, and not 
let him catch me tripping if I could possibly prevent it, though 
he did set traps in our way. He once asked the Class * ‘Are the 
nouns belonging to this Declension masculine or feminine?’ 
I answered ‘masculme’, others hazarded ‘femimne’ When we 
had all answered in turn, Joseph Wright said calmly: ‘You’re 
all wrong, they are neuter !’ Many years afterwards I told him 
I had always had a grudge against him for that ill-gotten 
victory. I argued that he had to all intents and purposes com- 
mitted himself to one of two alternatives, and who were we 
that we should presume to think our teacher in the wrong, and 
that there was a third possibihty? His reply to this was. ‘But 
you never forgot the right answer, and that was the mam 
thing.’ So he had the last word after all. I can remember what 
a satisfaction it was when he asked me one day the meaning of 
my surname Lea, and I could tell him the correct answer when 
he was expecting to have to tell it me himself. My self-confi- 
dence in his presence was on the mcrease.. One day he was 
telling us that had the Enghsh language preserved the old form 
of the plural of the word day, we should now say daws, and not 
days. He then asked us to tell him in what Modem Enghsh 
word we could see the normal development. I promptly 
responded: ‘Jackdaws’! It remained a mystery to me how I 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT i8i 

escaped with nothing worse than a benevolent elucidation of 
the word dazm A straw shows which way the wind blows, but 
I was not looking for the quarter of the wind. He gave me no 
open meed of praise that term, so his report on my work, which 
came to me via Mrs. Johnson during the vacation, was a 
pleasant surprise. ‘Collections. Dec. 1888. Old English. 
Term’s work: very good Coll. Trans Gram. HI.’ The 
two Old English Classes a week were to be continued through 
the following term 

In those days, unless a Lady Margaret student had special 
permission to come up earher, the regular day for assemblmg 
was the first Monday of Term, and never the previous Satur- 
day. I came up then on January 31, 1889, and next day, ac- 
cording to my ^ary, I attended ‘Dr. Wnght’s lecture as usual’. 
Apparently, as was his custom, he said nothing to me in Class 
about my work, or any aptitude I might possess for philological 
study. But the following day, after an entry, ‘Mr. Edwards’ 
lecture on Macbeth, with an appalhng set of questions,’ I 
record: ‘Letter from Dr. Wright suggesting that I should turn 
my mind to editing books for the E.E T. Soc., which gratified 
and stirred me.’ I make no apology for quoting these early 
letters in full, they are so charactenstic of the writer. I only 
wish I had preserved more of them for insertion here. 

De»e Miss Lei, i 6 Kivgstan Road. Jan. 

I hear from Mrs. Johnson that the time given on the printed 
list for the Friday lecture, is a misprint. It ought to be ii not 
12. I should be very thankful if you would kindly tell the other 
students. 

Could you perhaps sometime this term give me information 
upon the following points? : 

(1) Is the Exammation of prime importance to you? Do you 
intend to go m for the examination under the old or the 
new Syllabus ? 

(2) Have you any wish or desire eventually to do some 
original work in Old-Enghsh {cJias Anglo-Saxon) ? 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


182 

If It IS possible — ^i.e. if you have the inclination — , I am rather 
anxious that you should edit eventually for the Early English 
Text Society an O.E. MS. which is here. You would be ex- 
pected to give all the MSS. readings together with an introduc- 
tion, notes, and complete glossary, and perhaps translation. It 
would, of course, be a serious piece of work, and would reqmre 
much time and patience, but Prof. Napier (with whom I dis- 
cussed the subject in the hohdays) and myself would give you 
any amoimt of help in the work, provided you decided to 
devote that amount of energy to the work which is charactenstic 
of ‘John Bull’ when he sits down to work in earnest. 

You would leam much by such an undertaking. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

Nobody had ever told me before that I had any special 
capabilities for anything, with the exception of a gracious aunt 
who thought I arranged flowers better than anybody else. 
Members of a large family never pat each other on the back 
and extol each other’s cleverness. I can recall that I was pro- 
foundly ‘stirred’. At the same time, out of a curious perversity, 
the full meamng of which I was only to fathom many years 
later, I maintained to Joseph Wright that Literature was pre- 
ferable to Philology. The naked truth appears m my diary, 
I was really ‘still low about my Literature’, findmg ‘the amount 
of reading’ it involved ‘appalhng’, and condemning my essays 
as ‘all twaddle’. Defimtely conscious of the guiding influence 
and encouragement of Joseph Wright, I worked at Old English 
with steadily growing zest. On February 5 I received a second 
letter from him, emphasizmg his wish that I should do some 
‘original work’. , 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford. Feb. 5, ’89. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

The translation of the battle of Maldon I referred to last 
week IS to be found on pp. 192-204 of Freeman’s ‘Old Enghsh 
History’. I write to you because it is no use talking about it in 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 183 

class, as the other students are not far enough advanced to be 
able to appreciate the ^joke\ Read the translation through, or 
at least part of it by Friday, and then give me some ‘hint’ as to 
your idea of ‘English' exact scholarship. Everythmg in its 
place, but when the time comes I will draw your attention to 
more ‘starthng’ thmgs as soon as we have fimshed the other 
pieces. , I do this to draw your attention to the almost utter 
absence of exact scholarship of O.E. in England, and to en- 
courage you in the suggested work. 

Yours sincerely, 

J Wright. 

In my Report on ‘Lent Collections 1889’, again gave me 
good marks, and he pronounced my term’s work ‘ Very satis- 
factory’. The benefit of his teaching was also reflected in my 
Literature work, for there I was said to be ‘rapidly improving’. 
I wrote in my diary: Apnl 9. ‘Collections report, with OE. 
collection papers — ^pleasing, much better than I expected, 
which was excitmg.’ A still more significant entry follows, 
under the same date: ‘Paper from Dr. Wnght asking me to 
collect dialect words. Papa interested, wrote a paper on it for 
me to send to the man Also a paper on Lea which I didn’t 
like having to send, however I did, with as curt a letter as 
possible.’ A cunously self-conscious note, which bears out 
the truth of certain reiterated statements in Joseph Wright’s 
later letters durmg the time of our engagement, and proves the 
accuracy of his psychological insight. Unfortunately I did not 
keep this letter of his. I must have destroyed it in pursuance 
of my constant endeavour, from now onwards, to convince 
myself, and demonstrate to Joseph Wright, that the ground on 
which he and I^came mto contact with each other was the 
rational and prosaic field of Philology, and that any approach 
on a more personal footing was inadmissible on either side. 
I find in one of my 1896 letters to him a passage which says 
that my plan was to bum his letters if he had sat up to wnte 
them in the middle of the mght, or if he had signed them 



i 84 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

‘yours ever’. More than half his early letters must have 
come imder one or both of these two categories, for out of 
forty-eight entered in the diary as received, only twenty are 
extant. 

It is a task full of interest to me now to try to trace and gather 
up the first scraps of evidence that fell across my path pointing 
to that devotion to Enghsh dialects which culminated in the 
great work of his life, the Dialect Dictionary, a work m which 
I — even I — ^was ultimately privileged to co-operate. He had 
certain anecdotes which he introduced in his class-teaching, 
intended to arouse in our minds the nght kind of attitude 
towards country words and idiom, and lead us gently on to a 
knowledge of their hngmstic value. There was the story of the 
Yorkshireman taking a Sunday-school class ‘down South’, who 
said : ‘Now boys, I can’t teach you while you are quiet’, which 
illustrated the northern use of while in the sense of till. Or 
again, there was the tale of the two men who were disputing 
as they walked the point whether it was nght to say either and 
neither, or eether and neether. They agreed to ask the first man 
they met, and to abide by his decision, and he rephed . ‘Awther 
will do.’ Joseph Wright’s hold on a class was so ngid that he 
purposely relaxed it with some joke, or mstructive httle tale, in 
order not to overtax the attention of his pupils. He allowed us, 
as It were, to stand at ease for a few moments now and again, 
taking care, however, that even these moments were not wasted. 
He enjoyed raising a laugh, but even so, the joke interlude 
might often prove to have been his chosen time for implantmg 
some seed of richer worth perhaps than the ostensible lesson 
on hand. 

In the Summer Term of 1889 the Old English Classes were 
discontinued, and instead he held a Gothic CJass once a week, 
which of course I attended. My diary records nothing more 
about It than ‘Dr. Wright’s lecture’ with monotonous regu- 
larity. On May 29 I received a letter from him ‘asking me 
again whether I mean to do “onginal work” on leaving 
Oxford’. 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 185 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford May 28, 1889. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

‘Wer viel bedenkt, wird wenig leisten’ says the German 
proverb. 

I wrote on Jan. 21st asking whether you would be w illing 
to do eventually some onginal work. Since then my opmion 
has by no means changed as to your bemg able to undertake 
such work, provided you were willmg to devote the necessary 
time to It. I qmte agree, as you then remarked, that it is a 
‘matter that requires a good deal of consideration’. May I 
therefore ask you to kindly inform me sometime soon whether 
you have considered the matter over? 

I myself have neither a keen silent msight for the aptitudes 
of others, nor am a prophet in spite of myself. If one may be 
pardoned for making a shght parody on two of the questions 
asked in Enghsh last year (Honours papers), but I venture to 
conjecture that your strong side is and will always be the hnguis- 
tic and not the hterary side of Enghsh. No doubt you already 
know and feel for which of these two sides of language you are 
best fitted. Great excellence in both is simply impossible in 
the present advanced state of knowledge And however one 
limits his subject he may well exclaim with Ben Preston'. 

Wa> wa' pafekin luva did 
Ta Adm’z banz bileri ; 

9n liuk at moatlz wen ja wil, 

Jal find a sumat reg ^ 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

Though the following letter is not about me or my work, I 
add It here for the sake of givmg every one remaimng. It must 
have been a reply to mquines I had made on behalf of a fnend 
who was taking her Schools that June. She had worked entirely 
on the hnes of the old regime, and was now frightened by the 

* Weil* Well! Perfection never did To Adames children belong; And look 
at mortals when you will, You will find a somethmg wrong 

Bb 



i86 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

prospect of a stricter adherence to the syllabus m the coming 
Exami n ation. 

i6 Kingston Road. June 4, 1889. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

I am afraid you might have misunderstood my remark about 
this year’s examination m Enghsh. Candidates will, of course, 
have the old syllabus. The thmg is that the syllabus has hither- 
to not been fully earned out. E.g. it plainly says : papers will be 
set on English literature and its history to 1820 ; hence the neces- 
sity of a paper on English hterature m general apart from set 
(presenbed) books. This can’t be considered an encroachment, 
but simply a carrying out of the law. 

(2) It also says : ‘on the philology and history of the English 
language’. Now the time and trouble which you have already 
devoted to this part of the syllabus, must have convinced you 
long ago that this is really a very senous piece of work which 
cannot be got up in a very short time. That the paper this year 
IS bemg set and examined by a specialist (Prof Napier) in the 
subject, ought to be welcomed by serious students at any rate. 
The long and short of the matter is that any lecturer who is 
thoroughly interested m his subject, has a nght to see that 
justice IS done to his part of the syllabus * 

The examiners in English are. Prof Napier, Mr. Morfill, 
and Mr. Saintsbury. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

* In this case O E (alias Anglo-Saxon) and the philology of the language 
It ’s impossible for a student to know much about the philology, who has not 
got up the O E grammar and read some texts 

Apparently I wrote to him again in July, beggmg for m- 
formation about the papers done in the Schools by this same 
friend. She had always been regarded as ‘a safe First’ m 
Enghsh, but had come out with a Second Class, much to her 
own disappomtment and that of all her friends. This she 
attnbuted wholly and solely to the new stress laid on the 
Language side of the Examination. The proverb about the 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 187 

‘ill wind’ can have rarely proved truer. My readers will, I 
hope, be as thankful as I now am for the very ordinary chain 
of circumstances which led to the wntmg, and the preservation, 
of this very valuable letter: 

Dear Miss Lea, ^ 5 . 1889. 

I am sorry your letter could not be answered by return of 
post. I only returned late last mght from a dialect excursion to 
Somerset where I have been since last Fnday. The dial of 
Wellington has some very important sound-laws. 

I am very sorry, but it is quite impossible to comply with 
your request as regards the marks of Miss Edwards’ papers. 
No University exammer would convey to candidates either 
directly or indirectly the number of marks obtamed on the 
papers. However it would not, I hope, be regarded as a breach 
of trust on my part if I tell you confidentially that Miss Edwards 
did not do a single paper bnUiantly. Her answers to the Mid. 
Engl, papers and the paper on the Engl, language were neither 
better nor worse than her answers to the other papers. In fact 
she got a rather />oor second. There was this year less room for 
romancing on questions than has hitherto been the case, and I 
am hoping there will be still less room next year. 

Miss Edwards had evidently never been drilled in the art of 
answering papers. I should feel very sad indeed if you could 
not at the present moment almost clear the paper on the Engl, 
language. You have had nearly every question m my papers 
and the lectures. I detest Exammations, but I should very 
strongly advise you to devote a good deal of attention to O and 
M.E. it wdl ‘pay’. 

Doctors would say that my digestive organs are very good, 
but I have not yet — z. long time — ^been able to mentally digest 
your letter of May 30th. ‘Manual labour etc.’ is diflScult to 
digest. Literature is a very important study and I always have 
unbounded admiration for anyone who devotes himself thereto 
provided he is cut out for it^ herein lies the secret. Such bemg 
the case, what interest should I have in constantly trying to 



i88 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

persuade you to devote your chief attention to the linguistic 
side of language? If you are not studying for mere pleasure, 
but are really hoping and intending to leave something behind 
for the benefit of future generations, then I say, as I have often 
said, you will never be able to accomplish much m literature. 
You are not at all cut out for this kmd of work. No doubt you 
enjoy literature, but the point b whether you could ever pro- 
duce anything lasting on the subject. I say no. This is by no 
means a hasty conclusion on my part, but one which has 
gradually forced itself upon me. Here is an example of the 
converse of your case: Miss Jackson is passionately fond of 
and very strong on the hngmstic side of German, yet I am 
always hoping that she will some day devote herself to the 
hterary side of the language, as she is well fitted by nature to 
make a good mark in that line of work. It is no good to kick 
against nature, though we all do it more or less. ‘Man know 
th3rself’ is a very old saying, yet herem lieth the secret of all 
successes. Pray don’t think I am beconung either sentimental 
or frivolous ; hfe is too short for either. It is however the plain 
duty of all of us to ask ourselves the plain and simple questions : — 
What am I best fitted for by nature? How can I best benefit 
my fellow men ? And last, but unfortunately not always least — 
What field still remains to be ploughed and is it desirable — all 
other things being equal — ^for me to enter that field ? Such are 
the questions we ought to ask ourselves if we really mean to be 
useful and to leave something behind beyond a mere name on 
a grave-stone in some country churchyard. 

Thank you for your kind mention of Miss Jackson and Miss 
Wardale, whom ^ong with Miss Scott, I shall miss very much 
next term. They were all three such good workers m my httle 
sphere of work. It is rather sad, yet I am bound to say : Here 
endeth the generation of good workers, now that I have lost 
these three students. As for myself, I am gradually coming to 
the conclusion that English people regard anyone who devotes 
himself senously and earnestly to philology and the historical 
development of languages, as at least eccentric if not quite a 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 189 

lunatic, while Engl, dialects are regarded as mere vulgarisms, 
to possess a knowledge of which is a sure sign of bad breed and 
defective education. 

I am afraid my letter is not ‘quite to the point’, but the 
opportunity was too tempting not to make use of it. I have long 
wished to speak quite plainly and openly regarding your work. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

My use of the phrase ‘manual labour’, to which he here refers, 
is stamped on my memory, because he brought it up one day 
m Class : ‘What did you mean by saying the study of Philology 
mvolved too much “manual labour”? I thought “manual 
labour” meant working with a wheelbarrow.’ I rephed: ‘I 
meant the labour of handlmg big dictionaries.’ 

Dunng the whole of my third and last year I did no class- 
work with him, but in my final term he often gave me informal 
help and advice. He used to come to the Hall once a week to 
teach two English students, and he estabhshed a plan of re- 
maimng after the hour was over in order to see me and clear 
up my philological difficulties. I read in my diary entnes such 
as : May 2. ‘Dr. Wright explained certain OE. passages to me’ , 
May 3. ‘Letter from Dr. Wnght offering to help me in my 
revismg.’ This is the letter: 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford. May 2, ’90. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

Pray don’t forget that you are qmte at hberty to send me any 
difficulties you may meet with in the revision of your work m 
my narrow sphere: viz. the O.E. texts and the History and 
PMology of the language. The best plan will be to send me 
your hst of questions on Friday mornings (i.e. for me to receive 
them then), we will then discuss them when I fimsh with Miss 
Thomson and Miss Tufnell. Next Friday I will draw your 
attention to some special points in Chaucer and Piers Plowman 
which you ought to have at your ‘finger ends’. 

Don’t be anxious as to what the result of the Examination 



190 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

will be, and above all things be careful not to over-work your- 
self during the term ; you have been a good and faithful worker 
and you will certainly reap your meet reward. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright 

In spite of his exhortations against over-anxiety, I wrote, 
May 9, ‘Dr. Wnght — ^hints on Chaucer and Piers Plowman, 
depressing*. I remember him saying cheerily : ‘I suppose you 
know all your Chaucer well?’ ‘Indeed I don’t,’ I told him, 
‘only to-day I discovered that I had no notion how Chaucer 
could have two distmct forms of the adjective sweet m the first 
few fines of the Prologue.’ ‘You don’t know thatV exclaimed 
Joseph Wnght, ‘you’ve killed me'* I felt hombly depressed, 
literally, as from under the weight of a flat-iron. But I sur- 
vived to give him further horrifying surpnses: May i6. ‘Dr. 
Wnght on Beowulf, etc. shocked again at my ignorance.’ He 
told me that he and Professor Napier were both counting on 
my gettmg a First, which naturally added to the depth of my 
despair. I fancy now that the addition of Professor Napier’s 
name was mamly camouflage, to cover some of Joseph Wnght’s 
own personal interest m my fate in the Schools. Professor 
Napier had seen me constantly at all his lectures, but he could 
only have known anything about my work at second-hand 
through his fnend Joseph Wright. Be that as it may, all that 
I could do to help matters was to keep the hopes of my family 
at a stnctly low ebb — b. Third at the best — ^and plod on with 
my revising. I remember sitting in St. Mary’s during the 
Umversity Sermon one Sunday, with a black satin muff on my 
knee. It had a wide bow of nbbon, of many layers, on the 
top. Ever and anon these bows assumed a ijightmare face, as 
of pages of Clarendon Press annotations to ‘set books’. I shook 
them back mto ribbons, only again to see them haunt me and 
taunt me with textual notes. In those days the homble system 
had not been invented whereby the unfortunate candidate for 
Schools is made to take continual trial trips,called‘time-p£^ers’, 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 191 

all through her last term, till she must wish the day of her 
birth had never dawned. We had no tutors to devise systems. 
When the Examination day — ^Joseph Wnght spoke of it to his 
pupils as ‘the Day of Judgment’ — came, we asked the Chapel 
harmomum-player to give us the hymn ‘For those at Sea’, and 
we laimched forth on the main in our own boats. I say ‘we’, 
but this is a figure of speech in my case, for I was the only 
candidate for the Honour School in English that year. Joseph 
Wright m after years was fond of saying : ‘It cost the Univer- 
sity a considerable sum to exaimne my wife.’ The fee of ^2 tos. 
which I paid would not do more than cover the cost of prmting 
the ten papers, if that. The questions seemed pleasantly per- 
sonal, as if the Exammers were breathlessly waiting for my 
individual opmions ’ ‘What do you think Shakespeare intended 
by the witches?’ When I look at this and other literary ques- 
tions marked as answered by me then, I wonder what has 
become of the little I ever blew about the English classical 
authors At all events, I managed to get my First, so Professor 
Napier and Joseph Wright were reheved from their anxiety, 
and the latter told me triumphantly: ‘You got about mnety 
per cent, on your Language papers, and only just scraped 
through on your Literature!’ I knew, of course, that my success 
was entirely owing to him, therefore I did not begrudge him 
the satisfaction of his ‘I told you so’. To the credit of Lady 
Margaret Hall be it said that, small as our numbers were, we 
gained four Firsts that year. I sat for the Examination m the 
Divinity Schools, together with other women candidates for 
unrecognized subj'ects such as French and German. My desk 
was beside one of the large old windows looking out on to 
Exeter College garden. I never forget the sense of academic 
calm conveyed by that peaceful scene The sunshine and the 
silence of that garden, and the solemn figure of Mr. Boase 
pacing slowly up and down, were all so comfortmg. It was one 
of the mental pictures of Oxford that I earned away with me 
when I ‘went down’ in the summer of 1890. It did not take the 
Exa m iners long to wade through my performance, and there 



193 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

was no ‘viva’, so the news of my Class came by post on June 
27, only three days after the last paper. 

A letter from Joseph Wright, dated May 29, shows that 
already before my Schools, I had more or less consented to try 
my hand at some work such as he wanted me to undertake. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

I was pleased beyond measure to hear this afternoon that 
you are inchned to take up some piece of serious work after 
your exanunation. There are several thmgs you might do, but 
I was really too weary to talk about them when I saw you, as 
I had already been talking from lo-i this mornmg and from 
3 15 to 6.45 this evenmg. I shall be so pleased if you definitely 
make up your mmd to do some original work; for considering 
the amount of interest I have hitherto taken with the work of 
women students, the results — I don’t count examinations for 
anythmg — ^have been very small indeed. As soon as your 
Examination is over we will fix some definite piece of work. 

For next Friday you would find it useful to ask me about any 
grammatical pomts that can possibly turn up m the pieces set 
from Sweet’s Ags Reader. Don’t bother about Plummer's Ags. 
Chronicle. As you know, there are obvious reasons for my not 
bemg able to suggest any points. 

Yours smcerely, 

J. Wright. 

Meanwhile, no doubt, he did his utmost to harden my resolve, 
for by July 12 I had definitely promised to do his bidding. At 
once he was ready with a suggested piece of work, and offers of 
practical help, as will be seen in the following letter. Its real 
value lies, however, in the ‘digression’ on the important place 
of modern dialects m Imgmstic studies. , 

Dear Miss Lea, Kingston Road, Oxford. July 12, 1890. 

I am very pleased indeed to hear that you really mean to 
settle down to do a piece of serious work. How would the 
following suit you : — A complete grammcar of the phonology and 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 193 

accidence of the Northumbrian version of the Gospels} This is a 
piece of work which has not yet been done, although scholars 
have been looking forward to the appearance of such a grammar 
for the last ten years at least Cook, the translator of Sievers’ 
grammar, promised to do it many years ago, but it is very 
doubtful whether he has any real intention of doing it now. 
At the time he promised to include in his grammar all the 
Northumbrian documents. 

The gospels have been edited by Kemble and Skeat — ^Pitt 
Press, Cambridge. To make such a grammar of the gospels 
as I mean, would require much time, patience and ‘manual 
labour’. It might mterest you to know that Miss Wardale has 
already begun to make a similar grammar of the O.H G version 
of the Psalms. 

I am perfectly certam that you are thoroughly competent to 
undertake the writing of such a grammar ; and as the number 
of books of reference reqmred would be very small, there would 
be no necessity of your residmg in Oxford. It would be waste 
of time for me to enter mto details as to what books are m- 
dispensible for the work, and the manner in which you ought 
to set about it, until I hear what your opimon of the proposed 
work IS. 

There are several other thmgs I can suggest if you don’t like 
this. But this IS the best — ^though the most difficult — and most 
important. You know how pleased I shall be to put you in the 
right way of writing the grammar and to give you any further 
necessary help and to help you with the reading of the proof- 
sheets, but more about all this as soon as I hear from you agam. 

Try to leam as much Dutch as you possibly can while you are 
at the Hague, you will find it useful. Tell me when you come 
back if you are aljle to give me a proper analysis of Dutch v. 

I too was pleased that you got a ‘very good First’, though I 
knew perfectly well from the very first term you worked with 
me that you were sure of it, whenever the day came. Oh! how 
few students know how to stick to the ‘point’ and to omit what 
they don’t know without making ‘shots’ ! You and Miss Jackson 



194 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

were always free from this vice, you may perhaps call it by 
another name, but I call it a vice. You have often heard my 
definition of a good answer. 

You will, no doubt, be pleased to hear that Miss Cayley got 
a First and Miss Birley a Second. Miss Jackson got distinction 
all round And she frightened the exammers last year with too 
great an amount of accuracy in Old German and Philology 
It IS truly wonderful that so great brain power should exist in 
so frail a body. I have often wished, though she would prob- 
ably be very shocked if she knew it, that she were reduced to 
the dead level of making her own way in life, and of relying 
entirely upon her brain power for making a career in life. As it 
is, there is no probability of her settlmg down to do a piece of 
serious work, beyond a piece of dialect work — ^which in her case 
will be purely mechanical, as she does not know any dialect, — 
a subject in which I am very much mterested I have never 
had an opportunity of pointing out, and of making you under- 
stand how important English dialects are for the thorough 
understanding of the historical development of our own dear 
mother tongue. Their value cannot possibly be overrated by 
those who have senously devoted their attention to the subject. 
Would that you too could or would contribute a ‘widow’s mite’ 
to this all important subject, for depend upon it, it will be soon 
too late! All such work is a work of love, but it is by no means 
a question of ‘Love’s Labour ’s Lost’. In this field of work the 
harvest is very great, the reapers are few, and I often feel very 
sad, yes very sad indeed, that English people and English 
philologists will find out when it is too late that many points 
relatmg to English phonology will for eoer remain imexplained 
by means of the dialects. 

I am sure you will be surprised to hear th^t Miss Sorabji — 
whose home is thousands of miles from here — ^has already 
rendered considerable help in this way, and that she is this 
vacation making collections by way of help m this grand and 
glonous cause. 

It IS Simday evening — ^my best time for correspondence — I 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 195 

am afraid you will think I have become very sentimental, but 
I will return to the ‘point’ after such a long digression 

Surely the paper on Monday June 16, 9 A M.-i2, and two 
of the other papers must have convinced you that your real 
strength lies m language and not m twaddle, or in other words 
in definite and fixed knowledge and not in drawmg from 
imagination simply. I hope you now see, feel and realize the 
difference between a real knowledge of literature and the 
Schund as we call it in German, which is expected from candi- 
dates. I shall do what I can to have this exammer removed for 
the future. Many of the questions were very mdefinite and 
admitted of vanous kinds of answers ‘je nachdem’. 

I shall be here all the Vacation as I am seemg through the 
Press a Gothic Grammar I wrote some time ago. They have 
just appomted me to a lectureship in Teutonic Philology here, 
and I have announced to read next Term on Gothic, M.H.G. 
lyrical poetry, and Histoncal German Grammar. 

In conclusion I congratulate you most heartily 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 


This was the precursor of several others contaimng instruc- 
tions to a raw beginner. They form a clear example of the 
pams he would take to help a pupil to produce something to 
show that previous study had not been fruitless. Not only did 
he stimulate the beginner with words of encouragement, but 
he would give time and thought to explainmg the necessary 
techmcal details of workmanship from his own unlimited ex- 
perience. There probably never was a scholar better versed in 
methods of scientific grammatical study, at once time-savmg 
and exact. And in this, as m most things, he was mainly 
self-taught ' 


Dear Miss Lea, Kingston Road, Oxford July zo, 1890. 

You will no doubt be pleased to hear that Prof. Napier is 
delighted to hear that there is some prospect of your settling 
down to some ongmal work. He too is of opinion that the 



196 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

proposed grammar is just the kind of work you can best do 
with credit to yourself and others interested in the welfare of 
your work. He said at once ‘I hope I may be of some use to her 
in the undertaking’ ; so that what with the encouragement and 
help from one and another of us, you may safely settle down 
to the work at once and rely upon our cleanng up difficult 
points for you. 

If I might venture to give you advice, I should decidedly 
say that it will be best to begin the work before you go to the 
Hague — ^life is short' 

When you really get into the work, it will not be so ‘stupen- 
dous’ as you think. It will, it is true, take much time and 
patience, but that is the case with all serious work. 

There will be no need for you to have anything to do with the 
MSS. The newest editn of Skeat and Kemble (Pitt Press, 
Cambridge. 30/-) is thoroughly rehable. Seeing that you do not 
know Latin, it is very gratifying to hear that you can get help 
at home in this part of the work, for you will no doubt often 
have need of it. 

The only book which is absolutely necessary for you to 
possess at the present is the text of the Gospels. The next 
thing IS to make shps of all forms occurnng m one of the 
gospels, and the best for this purpose is St. Mark You may 
safely omit collecting all the examples of prepositions and con- 
junctions But be careful to collect all forms which deviate 
from the normal spelling of the North, dial. The same apphes 
to auxiliary verbs. Enclosed are a few specimens, but my shps 
are rather too large for your purpose. Buy very cheap and thin 
paper and have them cut by a bookbinder so that two of my 
slips make three of yours. As soon as you have got together all 
the shps for St Mark, and arranged them, yrou will find that 
the other gospels will not take so much time; for then you will 
have already got the skeleton for the grammar which only will 
require to be filled m. 

It will take some httle time to get the slips to St. Mark 
together and for the present there will be no need for you to 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 197 

think about the eventual arrangement of the matter, we will 
consider this at a later stage Do you think it would be possible 
for you to come to stay at L.M.H for a day or so sometime 
next term? In this case both Prof. Napier and myself would 
have an opportunity of giving you oral advice and help in the 
matter. If this is not possible, I don’t mind ‘a bit’ coming to 
Worcester for a day sometime before next term begms to put 
you in the way of makmg the right use of the shps 

I feel sure you will do your utmost to ‘turn out’ a piece of 
really scientific and useful work, and there is reason to believe 
that if Prof. Napier, Skeat and myself use our influence, the 
Pitt Press would publish the grammar as an Appendix — of 
course in a separate form — ^to the North gospels 

Are you qmte clear as to what you ought to do for the 
present? 

I will conclude with a speech which implies much m the land 
of its birth — ^Die Junggrammatiker sollen lebenl^ 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford July 28, 1890. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

I am sorry not to have been able to answer your letter sooner, 
but I have been very busy the last 10 days with looking over 
the German Local Examination papers. 

It would be impossible to give you a definite answer to 
Question (i), but judging from enquiries which I made last 
year in Germany and from Amencans who have been here 
from time to time, I should decidedly say that there is little 
chance of Cook writing the Old Northumbnan Grammar, 
which was to include all the O. Northumbnan monuments. I 
don’t think there is the least reason to fear that you will be 
anticipated. 

(2) Yes certainly paragraphs 150-168 will be quite enough 
for your present purpose. As soon as you get the slips for 

^ Long life to the Young Grammarians! 



iqS ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

St. Mark, we will settle while you are here about the manner 
in which you ought to make use of them 

(3) Your slips ought to include all words (and all forms of 
the same word), but there will be no need whatever for you 
to copy all the prepositions, conjunctions, and aux verbs unless 
they occur with different^ spellings 

I am glad to hear you will be able to settle down to the work 
at once. You will, I am sure, find the work very interesting as 
soon as you get into it. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

* 1 e various 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford. July 31, 1890. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

Prof. Napier who has had a good deal of expenence m the 
mampulation of slips, suggests that it would be handier after- 
wards when you come to sort the slips if you write the O E. 
at the left hand top comer, the Latin gloss at the right hand 
top comer; and the book ch. and verse say at the left hand 
bottom corner. I think this is an improvement, and I should 
therefore strongly advise you to adopt it. If you have already 
made some slips I should not re-write them 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

16 Kingston Road, Oxford August 13, 1890. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

It IS of the very greatest importance that all words contaimng 
an accent over the vowel should be carefully copied on to slips 
just as they occur in the text. In all other cases (i.e. where 
vowel length is not indicated m the text) yoij; will find it most 
practical in the ‘long run’ not to mark vowel length on your 
slip at all. 

As soon as you have got your slips together for St. Mark — 
on the above plan — ^you will find that the sorting of the shps 
will not be so difficult as you might possibly think just now. 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 199 

I am sending you by book post two grammars which have 
lately appeared, the one on O.W Saxon, the other on O. 
Northumbnan, the latter of which has only just reached me 
They are both very good From either of these you will easily 
gather the manner in which such a special grammar like yours 
is to be arranged. May I ask you to return them in the course 
of two or three weeks as I may be in want of them? Lindelof 
deals with the same dialect as you, and you will no doubt find 
his book the more mterestmg, though you will easily learn 
from either of them the method to be adopted as soon as you 
get your slips ready. 

Now that I find out that you are really m earnest about the 
work I reproach myself every time I think of it that I did not 
do more for you while you were here I will however try to 
make up for any ‘shortcoming’ when you are here next term. 

At the end of this month I shall be together with Dr. Sweet 
for a few days, and he will I am sure be so pleased to hear that 
you are makmg such a grammar. 

Let me hear from yoM frequently how your glorious work is 
progressmg, and don’t think for a moment that you will be 
giving me any ‘bother’ in any questions you might ask about it. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

P.S. I hope I am quite clear! 

With this letter of August 13, 1890, the series ends. I have 
none now extant for nearly a whole year, so that for this space 
of time I have only my memory and the diary as a basis for the 
further history of what Joseph Wnght had so bounteously 
godfathered from its infancy, and which he now styled my 
‘glorious work’. After workmg at home for three months, I 
paid a visit to Oxford at the end of October, for the purpose of 
seeing Joseph Wnght to talk over various ‘difficulties’ with 
hun. I went to stay for ten days with my good kmd fnends 
Mrs. Wood and her daughter Hilda. Immediately on my 
arnval, Joseph Wright ‘came to tea and talked shop with me’. 



200 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

One of the ways in which he greatly helped me at this period 
was by procunng for me introductions to scholars who would, 
he said, be interested m my work. I fancy he usually primed 
them m advance with a glorified account of my powers, and the 
wonderful things to be expected of my budding genius, if 
properly guided in the right direction And when Joseph 
Wright took upon himself to tell people what they ought to do, 
they did it Thus it was, that during this visit, I came into 
personal touch with Professor Napier. I had ‘sat under’ him 
for three years, but had never yet spoken to him. I wrote in my 
diary of Nov. 6: ‘To the Bodleian, quakmg with shyness, to 
meet Professor Napier. Walked with him to his house near 
Cowley. Found him very nice and friendly — ^talked about the 
Grammar. He promised all sorts of help.’ But Joseph Wright’s 
efforts on my behalf did not stop here. He was paving the way 
for me to become a teacher m my subject as a further step in 
my training, and, unknown to me, he was devising devices for 
procuring me a post m Oxford. With this object in view, he 
had already arranged that I should coach a woman student in 
Old English by correspondence. This I did between October 
and December, and was much thrilled on receivmg the sum 
of ‘£i II. 3 as my fee for coaching her. My first earmngs!’ 
I can see now that I was being nourished and brought up on 
true Yorkshire lines, under the hand of Joseph Wright. I was 
to be a wage-earner, and not an amateur. The next entry in my 
diary points to the further stage in his plans for my future. 
Dec. ai, 1890: ‘Letter from Dr. Wnght saymg he had recom- 
mended me to another correspondence pupil, and also makmg 
a private and confidential suggestion about my feehng willing 
some day to lecture at Oxford — ^ very excitmg letter’. Un- 
fortunately, this must have been a ‘yours ever’ letter, or illu- 
mined by the midnight oil, for it has been destroyed. My 
answer was apparently non-committal, for the diary contains 
no reference to it, and then on February 12, 1891, Joseph 
Wnght — ^who never relinquished a project on which he had set 
his heart — ^returned to the charge once more: ‘Letter from 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 201 

Dr. Wright offenng to propose my name to the Association as 
his successor m October for teaching Old and Middle English 
m Oxford. Papa said only “will it pay?” and no more Few 
slips [i.e, work on my Grammar] being too much distraught by 
Dr. Wnght’s letter Compiled reply to letter ’ This compila- 
tion was merely a request for more information, probably 
intended as a means of gaming time for arrivmg at some 
decision. The response was not long delayed Feb 17 -‘Letter 
from Dr. Wright tellmg of money prospects of lecturmg at 
Oxford, and also from the pomt of view of my havmg made 
no decision as to the scheme ’ My father’s attitude was by no 
means a mercenary one. His argument was perfectly sound: 
‘You have a home in which you can live ; if you like to go and 
live in Oxford you must earn enough to keep yourself, there is 
no reason why I should pay for the teaching of other people’s 
daughters.’ Joseph Wright’s letter satisfied him: the financial 
prospect was good enough for my needs. This was not the real 
crux. The question whether to take the post or not had become 
a serious problem in my own mind On the one hand, I was 
strongly drawn to Oxford, as to no other place on this earth ; 
I loved my subject, and I had good reasons for believing that 
I should love teaching it, and prove successful in so doing. At 
the same time, I felt that the whole scheme had been engmeered 
by Joseph Wnght, and I resented the feelmg that he was acting 
master of my fate I remember comparing myself mwardly to 
a performing bear, with Joseph Wright at the other end of my 
chain. I resolutely hugged this conceit, and wrote to dechne 
the proposal Five years later he said in one of his letters to me : 
‘We sometimes say “no” when there is a strong latent “yes” at 
the bottom’, and this was a striking example of the truth of his 
assertion. My refusal was a great blow to him, nevertheless 
he remained imdaunted, and went steadily on, patiently weav- 
ing the web of my destiny in accordance with a pattern of his 
own desigmng. (‘I have any amount of perseverance’, he says 
of himself m one of his later letters.) The result was that my 
teaching m Oxford was merely postponed for two years. In 

Dd 



202 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

reality I was trusting to his help and guidance very much more 
than I would acknowledge to myself, and it was the last thing 
I should dream of disclosing to anybody else, least of all to him. 
Reviewing my young self at this distance of time, with my 
aged matronly eye, I should say I was really a very shy and 
diffident maiden, but so jealously guarding my own most 
chenshed aims and ideas that it gave me a somewhat haughty 
mien. I see myself going about, as it were, clasping tight hold 
of Mrs Grundy with one hand, and carrying a barge-pole m 
the other 

On May 20 of this same year, 1891, I again paid a visit to 
Oxford. My diary treats largely of Joseph Wright and his 
helpfulness. May 21 . ‘Interview with Dr Wnght who was 
very kind and generous in helping me over the Grammar.’ 
May 23 • ‘Dr. Wnght came to help me with the Grammar and 
was very kind — ^proposed that I should write to Professor 
Skeat, and offered to make enqmnes at Cambndge for an 
openmg for me!’ May 26: ‘Compiled my. letter to Professor 
Skeat (by the advice of Dr Wnght) I Dr. Wnght came and for 
nearly two hours explained hard words to me . . . and so I left 
my beloved Oxford, after an intensely enjoyable visit.’ I went 
home and worked continuously at my Grammar, imder the 
auspices of Joseph Wright His next letter now extant is dated 
July 6, 1891. It was the first direct intimation I had had that 
he felt ‘hurt’ by my rejection of his Oxford scheme. 

^ 16 Kingston Road, Oxford. July 6, 1891. 

JL/EAR IVlISS I../EA, 

... As soon as you have fimshed the vowels, the next thing * 

will be to treat the vowels in other than stem syllables. And 
these you will have to divide into too classes : — (a) the vowels 
of medial syllables, (b) the vowels of final syllables. In arrang- 
ing the consonants it will certainly be the best to start from the 
primitive Germamc consonant system. My opimon is that you 
will find the consonants and the accidence very interestmg. 
Phonology corresponds to Pure Mathematics and Accidence to 
apphed (mixed) Mathematics, and speaking mathematically. 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 203 

he who knows his pure mathematics is exceedingly mterested 
in the apphed M When you come to work out the Accidence 
I think you will find that there is ‘many a nut to crack’. 

I am glad you find the German edition of the O E grammar 
better than the American one You know my dictum* ‘it is 
better to live on dry bread and buy the best literature than to 
feast on “fowls” and buy trash.’ 

I am very pleased to find that I shall be here when you come 
to Oxford I shall be in Oxford until the first week in August 
(7th) and shall return at the beginnmg of September to furnish 
No 6 Norham Road, I am sick of occupying a corner in 
another man’s cage, so I have just decided to have a whole 
cage to myself. 

Miss Hams and Miss Whitelaw — a. splendid woman in bratn 
power — ^have got a first. 

Yours ever, 

J. Wright. 

P S. Confession il a good thing both for the body and soul, 
the fact IS that I have not yet mentioned to Prof. Skeat and 
Dr. Breul that you would be prepared to go to the Halls there 
if there were a suitable opemng I shall see Prof. Skeat in the 
Vacation and will talk the matter over with him. I know you 
will not mind my saying it, but I was very much hurt that you 
did not accept my proposal to come here. 

Yours ever, 

J Wright. 

In September I was once more back in Oxford, and this 
time for nearly three weeks, staying with the same friends, near 
Lady Margaret Hall. I amved on September 7, and on the 
followmg day occurred a — ^to me — ^noteworthy incident in the 
history of my early meetings with Joseph Wnght. I have never 
forgotten it. I give it here as I recorded it at the time: ‘Dr. 
Wnght called at about 10 30 to ask me to come to the Bodleian 
to be introduced to Professor Sievers* Talk over the Grammar. 
Mrs. W., H., and I went to the Bodleian to interview the great 



204 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

man. Dr. Wright and he met us m the Schools Quadrangle. 
Sievers very kmd and friendly. H. suggested to Dr. W. to take 
us to St. Giles’ Fair Tableau Sievers and I ahead, Dr W , 
Mrs. Wood, and H. behind, going along the Broad to the Fair. 
Immense joke, “shies” at coco-nuts, nmepins, etc H and I 
and the spectacled Professors, Dr. Wright eagerly treating us 
to many pennyworths — ^no more learned discourses — ^great 
“screaming farce” •’ For the benefit of those of my readers who 
are not familiar with the city of Oxford, or who only know it 
during Term-time, I may explain that St. Giles’ Fair is one of 
the very old country fairs still surviving. Many attempts have 
been made to suppress it, but it remains hale and hearty, in- 
creasingly so, as a matter of fact, for with the invention of new 
noise-makmg machinery, the din of the Fair waxes ever 
greater. Charabancs and the motor-bus bring more and merner 
holiday-makers to add to the crowd of country folk who jogged 
into the provincial metropolis in the carrier’s tilted cart, to 
forgather with their town relations, and buy fainngs for the 
children. The Fair lasts two days, and is held on the first 
Monday and Tuesday after the first Sunday in September All 
traffic through the length and breadth of St. Giles’ is stopped, 
and the grey walls of St. John’s College are blotted out by 
gaudy erections, grown up like mushrooms m one mght. 
Doubtless the College Bursars sit comfortably behind darkened 
windows and listen to the music of the merry-go-rounds, for 
can they not hear in its strams the chink of the money rolling 
into their coffers, cast in by the showmen who rent their 
‘stands’ from the College on which they so blatantly turn their 
backs? The dhte of ‘North Oxford’ — ^the ‘West End’, to use 
the London phrase — ^take their famihes to the Fair in the 
morning, so that there was nothmg remarkable in our attendmg 
the Fair as onlookers, but what was striking was the sight of 
two Professors in black coats and wide-awake hats shymg at 
coco-nuts' Professor Sievers was the author of the Old 
English Grammar which had been my infallible book of rules 
ever smce I began to learn the subject. I had hitherto always 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 205 

thought of him as an abstract authority whom one spoke of as 
‘Sievers’, as one said ‘Shakespeare’, without any attributive 
title. It was a great event to meet him m the flesh. I cannot say 
that he shone m the coco-nut field on this occasion, but then 
he was so completely thrown into the shade by Joseph Wnght. 
The latter was a dead shot with his powerful left hand, and I 
was not the only adminng bystander, for presently quite a 
crowd gathered round us, and the heart of the showman must 
have sunk withm him as he contemplated the growing heap of 
nuts beside the hero of the moment. His store of nuts would 
have run out, and his ‘bank’ shown a deficit, if many customers 
came along possessed of such skill as that of Joseph Wright. 

Some years later Joseph Wright again figured at a booth in 
the Fair, this time, not in person, but on a film. It must have 
been one of the very earliest productions of the kind, when the 
cinema was m its infancy. In a dark tent, at an unfashionable 
evemng hour, a film was shown presentmg the work-people 
streammg out of tiie Clarendon Press at dinner-time, Joseph 
Wright leavmg his Dictionary Workshop amongst them, hastily 
filhng his pipe, as was his wont, for smoking was prohibited 
withm the precincts, and not a moment of freedom must be 
lost. The lady assistants, takmg a little evemng recreation at 
the Fair, hailed with delight this unexpected item in the senes 
of pictures shown. But I am straying away from my diary for 
1891, and Its recorded evidence of the part Joseph Wright 
played m shaping my life’s history in those days. So important 
a figure was he that I even chromcle as an outstandmg feature 
in the day’s trivial round: ‘expected Dr. Wnght, but he never 
came.’ Happier days quickly followed. Sep. 14- ‘Dr. Wright 
came to tea and explamed words to me afterwards. Dr. Wnght 
suggested I should write to Professor Sievers about the two 
words which puzzled Professor Skeat! Composed the letter.’ 
Sept 15 : ‘I went, by the advice of Dr. Wnght, to call on Miss 
Touhmn Smith.’ Sept. 19: ‘Found a note from Dr. Wnght, 
wrote an answer, and went to deliver it’, and then later the 
same day: ‘Interview with Dr. Wright at 5 o’clock tea. The 



2o6 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

latter abused me, and patted me on the back, and gave me 
explanations of words’, an amusing jumble of happemngs in 
one interview! It reads like the same admixture of pills and 
jam that his first letter to me contained, when he pointed to 
my ‘serious mistakes’, yet bade me not be ‘discouraged’ for 
that the early efforts of other young thmgs were ‘equally bad’. 
He always somehow made it plain that my ultimate good was 
his chief concern, and that I could rely on his leadership as safe 
and sure. My excuse for dismterring so many stray bits from 
the short and simple annals of my existence previous to my 
marriage m 1896 is, as I have pomted out before, to show how 
the dominating personality of Joseph Wright became more and 
more completely, as time went on, the main guiding influence 
behmd all that I did. I hardly recognized it even then, and 
often stood up against it when I felt it — as I thought — en- 
croaching on my own indmduahty , but I see it now as a pyscho- 
logical fact nevertheless. 

A second Professor whom I met for the fisst time during this 
visit was Professor Rhys. On September 2 I set out to ‘go 
through the ordeal of callmg on a new Professor. This time, 
Professor Rhys, by order of Dr. Wright, to ask for an explana- 
tion of celmertmmn. . . . The Professor took me into his study 
and hunted up books. Tea m the drawing-room. . . . “The 
Celtic Scholar” Dr Whitley Stokes, appealed to by Professor 
Rhys — all very kind — vtxj exciting.’ I remember being much 
struck by Dr. Whitley Stokes as a very learned and digmfied, 
and withal charming and benevolent, old gentleman, whom I 
was proud to have met. Doubtless this tea-party was amongst 
my memories when I left Oxford the following day, and wrote 
in my diary : ‘Arrived at Weston, feeling qinte dreary to think 
that all the dehghts of Oxford were over.’ My. days of moummg 
were soon over, for after little more than a month at home 
I returned to Oxford. Whether or no this was ‘by order of 
Dr. Wright’ I cannot tell, as the mtervenmg correspondence 
by letter has been destroyed. It would seem that I had some 
qualms over the project, for on the eve of my departure I 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 207 

wrote, Oct. 25 : ‘Letter from Professor Napier, a very charming 
httle note to say he would be glad to see me. Very cheering 
when I was feeling low at the thought of this venture of mine 
in gomg to Oxford ’ I took up my quarters in a boarding-house 
in Park Crescent, where I remained for a couple of months. 
Here I ‘began an attempt at the real MS. of the Great Work’, 
and Joseph Wnght frequently ‘came to help me, and was very 
kind’, stajrmg sometimes ‘an hour and a half’. My ‘elegant 
letter’ of thanks to him before I left ‘took ages to compose’. It 
was ‘by Dr Wnght’s desire’ that I introduced myself to 
Mr. Mayhew durmg this visit, whom I was afterwards to know 
among the workers on the staff of the Dialect Dictionary 
In my diary for the followmg year, 1892, the name of 
Joseph Wnght appears with even greater frequency. I corre- 
sponded with him regularly over the Grammar, and about the 
middle of May I went up to Oxford for ten weeks. This time 
I engaged lodgmgs m the Woodstock Road, opposite Somerville 
College, ‘which seemed likely to be very mce’. However, a 
senous drawback arose, incredible as it soimds in these more 
enlightened days. Mrs. Arthur Johnson had kindly asked me 
to stay with her for a day or two whilst seeking for rooms, so 
I suppose I hearkened to her word the more dihgently because 
she was then my hostess, and thus exercised more effectively 
the sway of the A E W over my doings in Oxford, although 
I was of graduate standing May 20 : ‘Mrs. Johnson said that 
when I was alone in mere lodgmgs Dr. Wright could not come 
to coach me! Horrors! So I went to consult Mrs. Wood, who 
was most nice and kind, but agreed that it would not do, and 
offered me the use of her dinmg-room. Came back and told 
Mrs. J.’ May 23 : ‘Went to Mrs. Wood’s and waited m the 
dinmg-room for , Dr. Wnght. He came soon after 5 p.m. and 
talked long about Zunch, etc.’ This was a first step in his new 
scheme for me, namely, that I should take a Ph.D. Degree at a 
foreign Umversity. He continued to press it upon me, till I 
ultimately acceded to his wish, though it never matenahzed, 
owmg to the success of his other yet secret plan which 



ao8 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

reached a desired climax in 1896. But to return to Mrs. 
Wood’s dimng-room Joseph Wnght came regularly once a 
week ‘to talk Grammar with me’, and I must have been absolutely 
unscrupulous about taking up his time, for I was constantly 
compiling ‘lists of questions’ to lay before him at these lengthy 
sittings I note that on June 22 1 met him at the ‘Masonic Fete’ 
in Worcester College Garden, on the day of the Encaema; ‘ Lovely 
afternoon — ^very grand party, band, fine dresses, D.C L. robes, 
strawberries andices . . . SawtheWoods,Dr. Wright, andothers — 
delightful time.’ I have in his 1896 letters his own much more 
romantic reference to this meeting. It might have cheered him 
perhaps if he could have known that I never even met him in 
the street, or inside a tram, without registermg it as an event in 
the day. On July 7 comes another passage of arms with Mrs. 
Johnson, as the representative of the laws of propnety. I was 
only Ignorant, never actively rebellious, so she could claim an 
easy victory every time, and I found means for getting all I 
wanted in the end. ‘I was to have gone a dave to Garsington 
with Mrs. Johnson and her mother — ^then came a note from 
Dr. Wnght asking me to tea to meet Dr. Sweet and his wife, so 
I had to go to Mrs. J. and back out — ^unfortunate as it was. 
Mrs. J objected to my going alone to tea, so I called on 

Miss who knew them, and got her to promise to come 

. . . Miss came, and we went to the tea-party. Pro- 

fessor Rhys was calling there. Dr. Sweet shy Mrs. Sweet 
small and delicate, but pleasant of smile. Tea in the dimng- 
room. Sweet fell to talking of my Grammar, and became less 
shy, and very mce — qmte sorry was I to come away. Thus 
did I see the one Professor I had hankered to know.’ It was 
during this visit to Oxford that for the first time I coached a 
pupil otherwise than by correspondence. Fqr this I gleefully 
received a cheque from Mrs. Johnson for I'js. (>d. 

On October 21, in large capital letters, and with many ex- 
clamation marks to indicate joy and satisfaction, I wrote in my 
diary the words : ‘Fimshed my Grammar’. Joseph Wright was 
busying himself as to ways and means of gettmg it printed and 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 209 

published. I went up to Oxford for a fortnight in November, 
when he came to see me at Mrs. Wood’s, ‘to talk about the fate 
of the Grammar’ He had no intention of allowing me to 
remain idle, for I found him already full of plans for ‘new work 
for me’ The Grammar, he told me, would probably be 
accepted by the Editor of the Anglia — 2. German philological 
j'ournal. Professor Napier also gave me a great deal of practical 
coimsel and help at this time I went to see him at his house 
on Headington Hill He had been lookmg over my manuscript, 
and now ad\’ised me to cut it down m parts, as it was ‘too long 
for the Anglia'. He further ‘proposed I should work at the 
Andreas which he had intended doing, and partly begun, but 
would give to me, and supermtend — very exciting this. Then 
after inviting me to come agam on my return on the 8th, he 
escorted me back, with much interesting talk — specially at the 
end, just before I got mto the tram at Magdalen, when he spoke 
of my teachmg Middle English here “if we were workmg 
together”!’ In the- light of later knowledge I see behmd this 
httle episode the master hand of Joseph Wnght It is more than 
probable that he had divined the cause of my previous refusal 
to accept a teachmg post in Oxford, and he was now gently 
preparmg the way for a similar proposal that should come, as 
it were mdependently, from another source 

The two following letters show the ‘fate of the Grammar’ 
decided, a matter, which by good fortune, I then thought vital, 
so that these valuable references to Joseph Wright’s own 
Windhill Grammar, and to the Dialect Dictionary escaped 
destruction. The Grammar duly appeared in the Anglia, and 
the Editor subsequently paid me ^£6 i6s. (id. for my contri- 
bution. 

, 6 Norham Road, Oxford. Dec. 3, 1892. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

I had a post-card from the publisher of the Angha on 
Tuesday, in which he asked how much space your Grammar 
would occupy when punted. I wrote back saying that it would 
occupy about 100 pages. 



210 ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

He did not say expressly that the Editor would accept it, but 
it seems to me highly probable that he will, seeing that he has 
written to make enquiries about the probable size of the 
article. I am very pleased to hear that Prof. Napier is readmg 
over your MS. 

Term is drawing fast to an end, and I am very glad of it as 
I am pretty well worked out. So far as I know at present I 
shall stay all the vacation here and try to make a serious 
beginning of my Comparative Greek Grammar which will be 
a rather heavy piece of work (about 500 pages when printed), 
but if all goes well I hope to fimsh withm two years. 

I wish I knew what could conveniently be done with the 
material for the ‘big’ dial. Dictionary, which I have in hand 
(nearly a ton of slips — 12 large packmg cases — ^all alphabetically 
arranged), the older I get the more clearly I see that I shall 
never be able to devote the necessary time to the editing of 
the material. 

Ypurs sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

^ ^ ^ 6 Norham Road, Oxford. Jan. 17, 1803. 

Dear Miss Lea, •' /> yo 

I am very sorry not to have been able to write sooner, for 
I suppose your Grammar has been ready for press for some 
time now. 

After much delay I received the enclosed post card by this 
post from which you will see that the editor of the Anglia will 
no doubt accept the Grammar. In my letter to the publisher — 
whom I know very well — I pointed out fully the exact nature 
of the work, so that your best plan will be to send off the 
Grammar at once to the editor. I will then try to arrange for 
its bemg printed sooner than m May or June. 

Frisch dearan, die Weil’ man kcmn. 

Wer viel bedenkt, wird wenig leisten. 

And all the rest of the ‘wise saws and modem instances’; in 
which there is after all a certain amount of truth. 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 211 

My book — which is dedicated to my dear mother — will be 
pubhshed next Fnday I have been collecting the material for 
It for a great many years, so that you may imagine how glad 
I am to have the book off my hands at last. I will send you a 
copy if you think it will interest you. 

I sorely need a few days’ holiday away from Oxford, but it 
IS useless to go away m tlus weather, so that I shall ‘toil along’ 
until the Easter Vacation. 

Yours sincerely, 

J Wright 

He must have sent me a copy of the Wmdhill book at once, 
for I was reading ‘Dr Wnght’s new book on his native dialect’ 
ten days after receiving his letter 

And now his chenshed project, which I had so recklessly 
overthrown in 1891, was on the eve of reahzation. I quote first 
my diary. Apnl 9, 1893 ‘Letter from Dr. Wnght telhng me 
that he had paved the way for me to get the Oxford lectureship 
which would shortly be formally offered to me*’ Here is the 
letter, it reached me at Vevey in Switzerland 

6 Norham Road, Oxford Apnl 5, 1893 

Dear Miss Lea, 

Off to Switzerland for three weeks! Happy (*) woman, three 
weeks here, a month there and x weeks somewhere else. I have 
just returned from a ten days’ holiday and feel very much 
ashamed of myself for having been idle for so long a time, but 
I was almost obhged to go home as my mother has been ill, and 
I wanted her to have a change of air, so we have been to the 
sea side for a week 

Now that you have just had a definite offer of a post from 
some other sourc^, I nught as well explain at once that I was 
agitating here on your behalf the whole of the last term, and I 
may safely say that there is every reason to believe that you will 
be formally asked in the course of the next month to undertake 
the teaching of all the O.E. and coaching therein. The matter is 
to be defimtely settled at the fibrst meeting of the Educational 



212 


ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

Committee, and Mr Sidgwick told me this afternoon that he 
did not think there would be any difficulty m getting you 
appointed for the work, especially as I have made ample pro- 
vision for Miss Wardale, who is to take the whole of the M.H.G. 
and the history of literature off my hands In fact I am hoping 
that she will some day be able to take over the whole of the 
Old German work. In fact you ought to be particularly grateful 
to Miss Wardale for the ready manner m which she has fallen 
in with my proposals. She seems to agree with the proposed 
change in every way, and I am very pleased, as she was always 
‘with us’. Draw your own conclusions from the last two words, 
and show me m your next letter that you have understood 
‘with us’. 

I cannot enter into details just now, but the so-called Associa- 
tion for the Higher Education of Women in Oxford has just this 
last term undergone a very matenal change in every respect. 
The change is for better in every way. There is now an Educa- 
tional Committee which arranges the lectuijes etc 

As soon as the affair is settled, your best plan would be to 
come up here some time dunng the summer term in order that 
I might give you some help as to the best way to prepare your 
lectures for the October Term. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

Without any attempt to disgmse the fact, I was now all 
eagerness to get the post, and found the delay of ‘the Oxford 
authorities’ m deciding the matter ‘very tiresome and dis- 
appointing’. At last, on June 15, I received a ‘letter from 
Dr. Wnght saymg the Oxford appointment was now almost 
certain — ^very pleasing this’. 

*5 

6 Norham Road, Oxford. June 13, 1893. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

Just a line to say that the question of your appomtment as 
lecturer m O. and M.E. will be defimtely settled tins next Friday. 
The delay has been very great, but it was inevitable for the 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 213 

purposes of success Had it come on sooner there is some 
reason to think that the female portion of the Association — ^the 
only source of opposition — would have outvoted the men 1 1 I 
won’t mention any names of these enhghtened (') women, but 
I am happy to say that the name of Mrs Johnson does not 
figure amongst them. More about details at some future penod, 
for the present it will be enough to say that you will be ap- 
pointed, according to the information I had this evemng. 

When you come up you ought not to lose any time m calhng 
upon Mr Sidgwick and to thank him for all the trouble he has 
taken on your behalf. 

The amount of trouble he has taken m the matter is really 
wonderful. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

On June 22 came a ‘letter from Mrs. Johnson — ^more or less 
the ofiicial annoimpement of my appointment’. I paid a visit 
to Oxford shortly afterwards when Joseph Wright ‘looked over 
my lecture notes and gave me much good advice’. Professor 
Napier hkewise did much towards ‘sustaining me in my sea 
of work and schemes, all so new and bewildenng’ Surely 
nobody could have had better friends in need* I only hope I 
showed them some fitting gratefulness, though when I think 
of all they did for me then, and later, I feel deeply conscious 
that the debt of thanks I owed to those two can never have been 
paid. But for them the three years of my teaching on the staff 
of the A.E W could not have been the thoroughly happy time 
of congenial work that they proved to be. I cannot vouch for 
what my pupils gained from their teacher, but I know I learnt 
a great deal, and gained much in trainmg and experience from 
mme. Almost every Sunday, and often on a week-day besides, 
I used to go to Professor Napier with a sheaf of ‘difficulties’; 
and all my lecture note-books are full of the scholarly comments 
and explanations he gave me to eke out and emend my own 
material. Sometimes, indeed, he lent me his own Lectures to 



ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


214 

copy. Walking through Mesopotamia to Headington on a 
Sunday afternoon I not infrequently met Joseph Wnght, which 
always brought a blush to my cheek, due to my anxious wish 
to appear unconcerned But even so, it had not occurred to me 
to suppose the meeting other than accidental. I never stopped 
to converse, nor did he offer to turn and join me on my way. He 
wrote letters to me occasionally, but I have only preserved the 
following one. The Editor of the Anglia had sent me several 
‘offprints’ of my Grammar and Joseph Wnght had given me 
a list of distmgmshed philologists and others to whom he 
recommended me to send a copy. Evidently I had forwarded 
to him the letters they wrote to me in response I have the 
packet now, with the letter he mentions from Professor Sievers. 

_ _ _ ^ 6 Norham Road, Oxford. Nov. 24, 1893. 

Dear Miss Lea, ‘i* vo 

I have read the enclosed with much pleasure and satisfaction; 
especially the letter from Sievers which will give you a good 
idea of the enormous value of detailed investigation similar to 
yours. My most smcere hope is that you will contmue the good 
work you have begun. You will not have much spare time for 
origmal work just now, but when once you have thoroughly got 
into your Association work, you will have ample time for under- 
taking further origmal work on your own account. There is 
nothing which would give me more pleasure than to hear that 
you intend to take the Ph.D. degree some day. Don’t forget 
that your O. Northumbrian Grammar would count for some- 
thing in the matter. 

Be of good cheer, toil zealously, and always remember that 
hard work is a genmne cure or preventive against most of the 
‘ills’ and ‘aches’ — ^real or imaginary — ^to which the human heart 
axid frame are subject. Now that you have fqlly realized where 
your strength lies — ^it was pointed out to you many years ago — 
don’t attempt the impossible. But although your gifts are 
grammatical rather than literary, be generous towards the tastes 
of other people. We can’t all be good grammarians, nor aU 
good at literature. In this work as m all other, a division of 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 215 

labour is necessary, where neither the former nor latter class 
of students is ‘first or last’, but both are on a level. What we 
grammanans ought to pray for is . toleration, but we can never 
hope to get it — ^and quite rightly — ^unless we are generous in 
our feelmgs towards other studies. 

Yours smcerely, 

J Wright. 

It IS a splendid example of his wise and fatherly counsel to 
me. Even the solemn upbraidmg, which he feels to be neces- 
sary, has no sting m it. What could be more gratifying than 
his ‘we grammarians’ — ^the disciple on the same footing as the 
master, and liable to the same temptations to excess of zeal? 
Other friends were more harshly candid. Nov. 28 : ‘A. told me 
I was too hard on my pupils, which on top of Dr. Wright’s 
sermon on “toleration” made me feel rather bad.’ 

Financially, Joseph Wnght’s prophecy about my post was 
amply justified. A&a result of my labours the A.E.W. paid me 
a cheque for ,£43 8^. 6 d : a sum considerably above my modest 
expenditure for the term. In the foUowmg term I earned 
5^57 i6s. 8 d. I may mention in passing, that, as my father had 
died m September, my mother and sisters had left the old 
Rectory home m Herefordshire The new home to which I 
now went for the Christmas Vacation was at West Elirby in 
Cheshire, a healthful, but otherwise not particularly attractive, 
spot on the estuary of the Dee. 

My diary for 1894 contams little that can lay any claim to a 
place m this Biography, and it comes to an abrupt close m 
November of that year, when I was threatened with a kind of 
writer’s cramp, and gave up all unnecessary writing. In January 
I sent Joseph Wright a boimd copy of my Grammar. In a short 
Preface I had written : ‘It is with much pleasure that I take this 
opportumty of expressing my smcere gratitude to Professor 
Wright not only for suggesting the work, but also for so con- 
stantly assisting me throughout its progress ; and to Professor 
Napier to whom I am indebted for almost all the explanations 



2i6 


ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


here proffered of the difficult and obscure words m the text. 
Indeed but for their sympathy and encouragement the work 
could never have been accomplished ’ 

Very occasionally I went to tea with Joseph Wnght, always 
accompanied by a chaperon He had learned wisdom by ex- 
perience, so when writmg to ask me to come, he now extended 
his invitation to some elderly lady of my acquaintance, out of 
respect to convention. He never had the pen of a ready writer 
for fashionable missives, because he was too downright and 
honest, and conventional phrases were never ‘in his line’. I 
remember being amused when I read his invitations ‘Will you 
and some other elderly lady come to tea with me?’ Another 
funny habit was his use of the phrase, ‘I shall be thankful’, 
where other people would write — or say — ^‘pleased’, or ‘glad’. 
It sounded more serious, and withal more humble than the 
occasion warranted. However, it so belonged to him that I 
came to like to hear it, and should have been sorry if he had 
ever lost it. 

My lodgings in my first term as a Tutor had been in Museum 
Road. The rooms were small and sunless, and I was not very 
comfortable there, for more reasons than one. The landlord 
spent his time hidmg from his creditors, who used to come — 
mostly m the evenmg — demandmg their money I could hear 
the debtor in the kitchen below telling the handmaiden to say 
he was ‘out’, and then the angry voice of the disappointed 
creditor at the front door when he received the message. There 
was, too, the episode of the upstairs lodger styled ‘Mr. Smith’, 
He called and engaged a bedroom for a week, paymg for it 
handsomely in advance. At once numbers of letters began 
coming for him by every post. Then he appeared, with a new 
toothbrush as his sole article of luggage, stayed two nights, and 
vanished, leavmg behind him a heap of ashes where he had 
burnt envelopes and telegrams m the bedroom grate. I was 
given every detail of the mystery as it unfolded itself to my 
landlady. ‘Mr. Smith’ had advertised in the Exchange and 
Mart that he had for sale at the address which for the time being 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 317 

was also mine, two second-hand incubators at bargain pnces, 
and a number of pullets of attractive age and quality, good 
value for the money quoted. Confiding persons, through the 
medium of the post, hastily sent him money orders, which the 
landlady, by the aid of a powerful lamp, estimated all told at 
about 3^20. ‘Mr. Smith’ walked the streets of Oxford all day, 
cashing his gams at various Post Offices, and before any one 
discovered the fraud he had decamped, none knew whither. 
My crowmng discomfort arose when some ladies at a tea-party 
told me horrid tales about my impecunious landlord, whose 
bold and truculent demands for money from his wife’s lodgers 
had scared my predecessors I came home from the tea-party 
and sat behmd a locked door. When I next wished to emerge 
from my sitting-room the door would not unlock, and the 
landlord — who really seemed a genial and harmless person — 
had to come and set me free. Albeit, I was ‘thankful’ — ^in the 
ordinary sense of the word — ^to get away from Museum Road. 
After the Christmqp Vacation I settled down in a nurseryman’s 
house in the angle between the Banbury Road and Parks Road, 
on the site where the Engineenng School now stands One of 
the advantages of my new dwelhng-place was that I could 
sometimes see, passing below my window, the burly form of 
Joseph Wnght, with hands crossed behmd his back grasping 
an idle walking-stick, as he strode to, or from, his Lectures at 
the Taylor Institution, One day I actually made bold to invite 
him to come to tea with me, and of course he came. (Mindful 
of etiquette I had duly provided myself with a chaperon!) I 
had never poured out tea for him before, and did not know, 
that when the tea-cups were small, like Dr. Johnson, he drank 
many cups of tea m succession. I was pourmg out a late edition 
from an exhausted teapot: ‘Thank you,’ said Joseph Wnght, 
‘that will do,’ Myself, humbly. ‘I am afraid it is rather weak.’ 
J. W. ‘That ’s why I said I did not want anymore.’ On another 
occasion I asked him specially to meet my friend Miss Weisse. 
He made a great impression on her, which deepened as she 
came to know him better. Almost from that first meeting she 

Ff 



2i8 


ELIZABETH MARY LEA 

used to say: ‘Dr. Wright is a poet, all the more so because he 
is unconscious of it’, and I hved to learn that she never spoke 
a truer word. No doubt I told him then how it was really she 
who sent me up to Oxford. It was a fit culmination of the part 
she had played in 1887, that in 1896 she combined the offices 
of fairy godmother and guardian angel over my engagement to 
Joseph Wright. 

The only remaming letter written by him between now and 
Jrme 1896 is a very important one concerning the Dialect 
Dictionary. I give it here as part of his correspondence with 
me. His later letters give his reasons for wanting me above all 
others to be interested in this his greatest undertaking, and 
show how he explamed my coldness, and lack of any responsive 
sign of enthusiasm, which was so hurtful to him at the time. 

6 Norham Road, Oxford June 5, 1894. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

I have just had a specimen of my proposed dial, dictionary 
‘set up’ and send you a copy, which will doiibtless interest you. 
I am in correspondence with the best pubhshers m Great 
Bntain upon the subject. I discussed the subject with them 
very fully last week in town, and the chief representative of the 
firm IS commg to see me this next week. Although the work 
will take up many of the best years of my life, yet there is no 
one else who can do it, and it would be such a pity if our 
dialect words should not be permanently registered ere it be 
too late. But the work shall not prevent me from writing several 
other books I have been pondermg over for many years. 

Yours ever, 

J. Wright. 

Sir Charles Firth recently found among has papers a letter 
written by Joseph Wnght to him m 1895, which he has kindly 
handed over to me. The controversy with which the letter 
deals has wholly passed from my memory. It may be that I 
never knew anythmg about it. Probably Joseph Wright heard 
that the A.E.W. was on the war-path against two of his former 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 219 

pupils, and he rose up as their champion. He may indeed have 
urged It upon Professor Firth that he should espouse our cause,* 
and act as authontative mouthpiece on our behalf. The latter 
had written to Joseph Wnght asking for an exact statement of 
facts wherewith to confound the pohtics of the A.E.W., and this 
is the reply to the request. I give the letter in full, not only 
because it contains his own account of some of his methods in 
teachmg, but because it shows how extremely generous he was 
towards the women students. Moreover — ^and this is what gave 
me such a thnll of satisfaction when the letter came into my 
hands — ^it is the first evidence I have seen of Joseph Wnght as 
a fighter. He always said he ‘loved a fight’, and when he was 
forced by age and oncoimng weakness to retire from Umversity 
hfe, he was fond of saymg that what he felt most was having 
‘nothing to fight’. 

6 Norham Road, Oxford Nov. 25, 1895. 

Dear Firth, 

It is rather difficult to give a good answer to your question 
about the ‘Paper Work’ in connexion with the Association 
Lectures : (i) because all subjects cannot be put upon the same 
footing with good results, and (2) different lecturers adopt 
different methods to arnve at the same results. 

During the many years I have lectured to the Association 
I have tned several plans • 

I. In former days I used to set the papers, and go throi^h 
and correct them at home, and then discuss them in class. After 
much experience I came to the conclusion that this plan was 
most unsatisfactory from the student’s pomt of view, because 
it used to take up the whole hour in discussing the papers and 
there was no time left to find out whether the students had 
earned out the instructions given in the previous lecture. 

II. I gave up method one and adopted the followmg method. 
I set the papers as usual, corrected them at home and then went 
to the Halls and discussed them with the individual students. 

* Professor Firth was a member of the A E W Committee, and as such took 
Lf) the cause of the two language teachers m question 



220 


ELIZABETH MARY LEA 


This used to cost me at the very least 12 hours a week for which 
I never received either pay or even thanks I am now speaking 
of the days when I had the teaching of O E , O. Germ., and 
Gothic. 

Method II answered splendidly from a student’s point of 
view and I continued it for some years, but it left me without 
time to prosecute my own private studies in Term time. For 
very obvious reasons I was duty bound to abandon this method 
at the begmmng of 1891 to the great disadvantage of the 
students. At this time or thereabout I handed over the teaching 
of 0 .E to Miss Wardale and then later on it passed into 
the hands of Miss Lea When Miss Lea was appointed to the 
teaching of the O E. I handed over to Miss Wardale the 
‘History of Old German Literature’ and all the ‘Middle High 
German’ as well as all the private teaching therein together with 
any pnvate help students might require in Old High German. 
I am very sorry to trouble you with this ragman’s roll (to whose 
reign does this refer? Under what circumstances did it take 
place? And what is the Mod. Engl, eqmvalent? A question 
for the History Sch ), but it is necessary to understand method 
III, which IS divided into two headings like a Sermon. 

(A) O H German. I set the papers as usual, go through them 
at home and tell the students if there is anything they don’t 
understand in my corrections they must ask Miss Wardale, 
because we cannot possibly spend time in Class in discussing 
papers if we are to fimsh our part of the syllabus m the pre- 
scnbed time — One year. 

(B) Gothic. As the amount students are obliged to learn is 
very small, I have kept up the plan of Method I, i.e. to discuss 
the answers to the papers in Class, but it resolves itself mto 
mere cramming and putting the students up jto the pomts they 
are hkely to be asked in the exammation. In short it is mere 
instruction with an end in view (examination) but it is an3rthmg 
but education — the true end of Umversity education. 

I have heard from more than one source that the Association 
are about to censure Miss Lea and Dr Wardale — ^mark the 



STUDENT UNDER JOSEPH WRIGHT 221 

distinction, the only woman in the whole history of Higher 
Educ. of Women in Oidord who has taken a decent degree 
And there are two other women who will take the same degree 
very soon. 

What other Oxford Schools can show such good results as 
ours? Count from 1888 the results in Engl and Mod. Lang 
and other Schools, and they are not in it. 

I am wntmg here in the name of Napier and myself and we 
hereby express our great disgust (mark the strong term) that the 
Educational Committee should even have entertained the idea 
of censuring the teachmg of Miss Lea and Miss Wardale. They 
have both acted in the best way they considered for the interest 
of the students placed under their charge I thoroughly endorse 
the plan they have adopted, and if the Educational Committee 
think otherwise, my services to the Association are no longer 
required I feel strongly upon this point 

Yours ever, 

J. Wright. 

III ENGAGEMENT 

Somewhere about this time — ^it must have been after I left off 
keepmg a diary — I remember gomg to call on Joseph Wright’s 
mother, when she was staymg with him in the Norham Road 
house. I have no clear recollections of her then, though I 
beheve I saw her twice I httle knew that she, with her keen 
Yorkshire eye, was takmg stock of me as a prospective daughter- 
in-law • According to a tale told m WmdhiU, Mrs. Wnght said 
after I left the house . ‘She seemed to be at ’oam, for she ’ad ’er 
feetont’fender.’ The fnend who related this added* ‘Professor 
Wnght, will of course, understand this expression; it signifies 
much in Yorkshire, showing that people are not only welcome, 
but that they are giembers of the family circle.’ Joseph Wright 
told me afterwards, m one of his letters, that she had been 
‘satisfied’ with me, and I was proud of the testimony, though I 
marvelled that she should think any mortal woman good 
enough for this her son who was more to her than all the world 
beside. 



222 


ROMANCE 


In the Summer Term of 1896 Joseph Wright was makmg up 
his mind that the time was now come when he might bring to 
an end his years of silence By hard work and stern self- 
denial he had reached a position which would enable him to 
provide for his mother for her life and make a home for me. 
The extracts from his love-letters, which I shall presently 
quote, will show how even in this one great movmg passion of 
a man’s life he made natural feeling subservient to reason and 
chivalry, in short, to all that he held to be summed up in the 
word Duty. He had never said an3rthmg to me which might 
not have been broadcast, had the B B.C been in existence then, 
so confined to ‘shop’ talk had been his intercourse with me. 
Things were to be different now. He invited me to tea, 
together with a friend and pupil of mine, the wife of an Ameri- 
can doctor. In honour of the occasion Joseph Wnght had 
bought at the most expensive china-shop in the town a pot to 
hold a flowering plant, to adorn the centre of his tea-table. He 
‘paid seventeen shillings for it’, and I ‘n^ver took the least 
notice of It’. I was indeed unaware of its existence till I saw it 
and heard its history after we were married. He was disap- 
pomted over the failure of this effort, but undismayed. Before 
I left he even hazarded some complimentary remark about my 
personal appearance. I think he said he had always liked my 
eyes. Anyhow, I bristled with haughtmess, and, on leaving, 
I carried my head so high that I bumped it against a book-case 
by his study door, and had some ado to keep up the digmty of 
my exit. On the way back to my rooms, Mrs. Krauss com- 
mented on my cold, and even icy, behaviour. 

And then, without any further preliminaries, he made the 
big venture : he wrote to me on June i and asked me to marry 
him. The letter was short, and to the pomt, jmadomed by any 
flowers of speech, just a plain statement of solid fact. He had 
lived for years with this one idea, till he had become so familiar 
with it that it just did not occur to him that any prelude or 
elaboration was necessary when laying it before me. 

Hereby hangs a tale — a long one, and a weighty one, in 



ENGAGEMENT 


223 

truth the tale of our two lives together. Mrs. Browning — ^when 
she was still ‘E B. B.’ — says in one of her letters to ‘R. B.’ : ‘I 
for my part value letters (to talk literature) as the most vital 
part of biography ’ To keep such back she says is ‘a wrong and 
selfish pnnciple’, and that: ‘because we should all be ready to 
say that if the secrets of our daily lives and inner souls may 
instruct other surviving souls, let them be open to men here- 
after, even as they are to God now. Dust to dust, and soul- 
secrets to humamty — ^there are natural heirs to these thmgs.’ 
She goes on to say that whilst she fully sympathizes with ‘the 
shrinking back from the idea of pubhcity’ yet she deems it 
‘natural weakness’. The question whether or not I should give 
to the world m this Biography what Joseph Wright wrote only 
to me is one which I have pondered over for many months past. 
I have often wished I had dug up the correspondence out of a 
Tutankhamen sepulchre, and then there would have been 
nothing to think about except how to blow a flourish of trum- 
pets loud enough to herald such a glorious discovery. My first 
intention in going through Joseph Wright’s love-letters was 
just to quote from them the many interesting references to his 
early home life, and especially to the close intimacy between 
himself and his mother ; details about the progress of his great 
work, the Enghsh Dialect Dictionary; and any casual remarks 
on thmgs m general. All this has a value as commg from a man 
of his mental stature, but to give this and no more would be 
to keep back the best. Finally I decided that, cost what it may 
to lay bare my sacred and secret treasures, I ought to let other 
eyes behold and see something of this wealth of goodness and 
beauty and truth which otherwise would have remained hidden 
for ever. It was granted to me that I should know the inner 
life of a great soi4, and be blessed by its pure radiance. The 
greatness of Joseph Wright is not so much in what he did — 
though he grappled with, and carried through, Herculean tasks 
such as few could have achieved — ^but in what he as a man. 
To write of him, and yet withhold what I alone possessed, the 
knowledge of his high ideals of Love and Life, ideals which he 



224 ROMANCE 

humbly followed to his last moments on earth, would be 
givmg but a famt shadow of a real presence. I should be with- 
holding a tnbute of honour I would fain pay to his memory, 
and lessemng the light of example he set to the world More- 
over, a sentence m one of his letters now sounded m my ears 
like a message to me from beyond the grave • ‘When we two 
become old, and life is on the wane, it will be our duty to hand 
down to future generations the life and experience of two 
kindred souls.’ 

The theme of love has fallen on evil days. It is so much the 
fashion now to set it forth in print and on the stage as a base 
and ugly emotion, or at best a bauble hghtly to be taken up, and 
as lightly discarded; a subject for baneful jestmg and con- 
temptuous mocking. In the story I have to unfold, love is seen 
at Its highest and noblest, a mysterious and abiding force, which 
nerves hand and brain, and links earth to heaven; ever growing 
more and more spiritual, lifting man and woman above matenal 
ills and the tedium of everyday life, creating an atmosphere of 
unclouded peace, which does but become clearer when all else 
crumbles in decay. Even a poet such as Robert Brownmg 
comes down from the heights to rhapsodize about kisses and 
lips, and be interested in his own headaches and their causes 
and remedies. In Joseph Wright’s love-letters there is nothing 
of this ; underlying them throughout is what I have called his 
gospel of Work. He bnngs no garlands of roses, no exquisite 
lays, as tokens of his love, but like the knights of old he has 
made himself ‘worthy’ by domg heroic deeds. He toils to gain 
an answermg love, and when he has attamed what he sought, 
he accepts it as a pledge that shall inspire him to put forth yet 
greater strength, and accomplish more Work in the world at 
large. He sets out to find happmess, not tp use it for selfish 
ends, but that it may enable him more fitly to fulfil the duty 
of service. He looks forward to marriage as providmg the right 
fulcrum for future energy, and not merely a haven of rest after 
the exceptionally hard and toilsome days of his youth and early 
manhood. When a man’s love has been conceived m this 



ENGAGEMENT 225 

lofty spirit, and has grown to unplumbed depths before it is 
allowed utterance, it breaks like a bewildermg flood upon the 
woman at whose feet it is poured. She is carried out of the 
shallows of her ordinary life hitherto, and knows not where she 
is, nor what is before her. Thus it was with me, especially 
when a second letter came, reveahng a tenderness and beauty 
of soul which simply awed me by its grandeur. The two or 
three weeks which followed were to both of us the most solemn 
period in our lives, a time of storm and stress precedmg the 
calm of complete concord. Joseph Wright used to say that the 
three important events m a man’s life are his birth, marnage, 
and death, and as the ordermg of the first and the last is not 
in his hands, marriage remains the one thing it behoves him to 
consider. 

The full meamng of much that comes in the later letters 
cannot be understood without first quoting from those which 
were written immediately before our engagement. After I had 
answered Joseph Wight’s first and second letters, I felt m 
honour bound to destroy them, and did so, but he kept every 
one of mine. Naturally I meant to refrain from giving here any 
of my own letters, smce this is not an autobiography; but at the 
outset I was faced with this break m the cham, which could 
partially be filled in by the allusions contained in my half of the 
correspondence; and further, I found that the one-sided plan 
was going to be like listening to a speaker at the telephone, when 
the messages which reach his ear are inaudible. And thus it 
has come about that m order to throw a full hght on my present 
record, I must make use of what I myself wrote then. 

48 Banbury Road, Oxford. June 2, 1896. 
Dear Professor Wright, 

I scarcely know how to answer your letter, because I feel 
I shall be givmg you such pain, and I caimot bear to do that — 
and I cannot but feel honoured by your feehng towards me all 
these years. . . I could not marry anyone whom I did not love 
with all my heart and soul — it would only be misery on both sides . 



226 


ROMANCE 


That is my simple reason for saymg ‘no’, and I hope you will 
forgive me for puttmg it so bluntly. I cannot say how sorry I 
am to seem so imgrateful for all you have done for me, for truly 
I am not so. I shall always feel that it was mainly your doing 
that I have found work and interest in life — you have always 
been a truly good friend to me, and never spared any pains to 
help me in every way, both by words and deeds. And though 
I may not have said so, I have always deeply valued your help 
and encouragement, and do still, though I do not deserve it. . . . 
Please do not think more hardly of me than you can help, for 
writing this letter. ... I have burned your letter. 

Believe me. 

Yours very smcerely, 

Elizabeth M. Lea. 

June 3, 1896. 

Dear Professor Wright, 

I think I could see you some time soon, but not now. Let 
me first see my Mother. It has been long airranged that she is 
to come here on Saturday for a few days. I must tell her — she 
is everythmg to me, and I keep nothmg from her — ^and she is 
wiser than all the world beside. 

Please do not write again — I am not worth all that — I can 
only say over again that I am grieved to pain you so deeply. 

Yours very sincerely, 

Elizabeth M. Lea. 

48 Banbury Road, Oorford. June 9, 1896. 
Dear Professor Wright, 

My Mother very strongly urged that you and I should not 
meet to talk over this, she thinks it would only be pamful to us 
both, and that alone. It seems to me too that it would not be 
much good. I wholly believe every word you say in your letters, 
if I did not, they would not have made me so unhappy and 
miserable — ^if I could have imagined it the sudden effusion of 
a weak character, which might run tomorrow m quite another 
channel, it would not have seemed so awful and sad. In my 



ENGAGEMENT 227 

wildest dreams I could not have imagined anyone caring so 
much about me, and to think of it as thrown away and wastedi 
But you have created an ideal me, beside which the origmal is 
but a weak imitation. 

I know you are not a ‘vulgar’ man; I know that you have 
by sheer gemus and hard work won a ‘position’ to be proud of, 
I know your love is as pure and noble as man is capable of ; 
I am sure you have led an honest and good life. What need 
therefore to ‘discuss’ these things ? If I do not love you, I can- 
not marry you — ^it would be wicked and cruel. You yourself 
would not have me marry you out of pity, or for the sake of your 
‘position’. If I loved, as love should be, ‘position’ would not 
make the least difference. I have never played at ‘love-making’. 
I have always been brought up to beheve it the most solemn 
thing m man or woman’s life — ^and your letters stagger me, and 
bewilder me. I have never heard such words before. 

I do feel that you do not know me. I am weak and shallow, 
and incapable of t^e strength and depth of character you have. 
You have had practically no opportunity of knowing my daily 
life. ... I hope I have made myself clear, but it is so difficult to 
write But please understand that it is not that I do not admire 
you, (I do), and it is not that I have the faintest love for any- 
body else, (I have not), but simply that I cannot return the 
great love you bear towards me. I may be upset and bewildered, 
my vanity may be gratified by the honour you do me, but that 
is worse than nothmg. It seems just dreadful to be the source 
of so much pain to such as you. I still think you have a right 
to claim an interview, if you choose to exercise it, but as I have 
tried to explam, I do not see what there is left for us to say to 
each other, and it would be very difficult and painful. I cannot 
honourably and honestly give you the one answer you want, 
and you would be the first to say that you would not take any 
answer but such as was made m ffie spirit in which the question 
was asked. 

Yours very sincerely, 

Elizabeth M. Lea. 



228 


ROMANCE 


Deab Miss Lea. 

I have just received your sad and terrible letter. Do let me 
see you this afternoon at 4 o’clock if you possibly can,. I should 
feel a httle easier if I could but tell you the story. I will be calm. 

I will then resign myself to the will of Him who rules all things, 

Yours ever, 

T ^VI/'righx 

/ will watt at the door for your answer. ’ 

June 10, i8q6. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

Acting upon your kind permission I wrote to your dear 
Mother today. I have told her everything. It was my solemn 
duty to do it, as you too keep nothing from her. 

It was so very kind of you to see me this monung, but I was 
quite unnerved when I saw how ‘unhappy and miserable’ you 
looked I had the terrible feelmg of having been the cause of 

pain to you Your last letter will ever be treasured by me 

It is the outpounng of a very true and honest heart. . . No, I 
have not created an ideal ‘me beside which the onginal is but 
a weak mutation’. . . . You, as I pomted out to your dear 
Mother, may wonder why I have loved you so dearly for so 
long a time without making it known to you sooner. It was 
impossible to declare myself sooner as an honest and honour- 
able lover. Had I asked you years ago, and had you accepted, 
there was just the chance that I might have died and left you 
improperly provided for. I lost no time in making my deep 
love for you known as soon as this grave and solemn duty had 
been attamed. We will discuss this serious and awful question 
on Friday qmetly and dispassionately. And my sincere and 
pious hope IS that you will not pronounce any opimon for the 
present, but leave it entirely to Providence. - 

Yours ever, 

J. Wright. 

After the interview on Friday, June la, he wrote on June 15 : 

Many thanks for your very kind note. You don’t know how 



ENGAGEMENT 


229 

grateful I am to you and Miss Weisse for such a generous act 
of kindness. If it is all the same to you and to her I will come 
to Northlands [Miss Weisse 's house at Englefield Green, near 
Windsor] on the Wednesday by the train leaving here at 10 57 
This will, I am sure do much towards enabling you to arnve 
at the true and right decision, whatever that may be It rests 
entirely with you, I have nothing to decide ; I decided firmly, 
resolutely and irretnevably all these years ago, and I have never 
wavered in that decision, the very opposite. It has grown 
stronger and stronger every day . . . 

June 16, 1896. 

Dear Professor Wright, 

Thank you very much for your letter. As you have met 
Miss Weisse, I should think you might just wnte and thank her 
for her invitation, and say you are accepting it. 

There is no need to remmd me of my ‘responsibility’ — I am 
only too conscious of it, morning, noon, and night 

If you will take^upon yourself the risk of its bemg worse 
than no good at all, will you come and see me either at 3.30, or 
at 4 on Fnday? I do not want to seem churhsh, only it does 
not seem fair on you, when I cannot say whether or no the end 
will be pain or pleasure to you. But whatever you do or say, 
do not say it is ‘kind’ of me to see you. ... I was very glad to 
have had a talk with you on Fnday— but you see you apparently 
know all about me, whereas you to me are a sudden revelation ; 
so while you can go on with your work, I am distracted over 
mine, and some of it must be done. I shall very likely come 
back to Oxford after Germany for a few days to go on with the 
Charters. The idea being that I should make a Grammar of 
those belonging to Edward the Confessor’s reign. But whether 
I shall ever do it remains to be seen. 

I feel I am tradmg on your goodness of heart, and treating 
you worse than ever. I am sure you do not know what it feels 
like to be feeble-minded like me! 

Yours very sincerely, 

Elizabeth M. Lea. 



230 


ROMANCE 


June 17. 


Dear Miss Lea, 

... It is clear from your letter that you have honest doubts 
in your heart as to whether you can or cannot accept nae eventu- 
ally. Take plenty of time. I have waited years, and can still 
wait. I am sure you will agree that our last meetmg was not so 
very ‘painful’, and that we did much towards coming to a right 
understanding of each other. 

Yes, I feel I am a ‘sudden revelation’ to you, and that is why 
it IS so important that we should see something of each other. 
It is not difficult to learn to know a man like myself. I am a 
plain, simple, open-hearted man without the least varmsh. I 
am very much afraid you will think this vamty, but it is not. It 
is the honest truth. ... I am leaving with this note the first 
Part of the Dictionary which will mterest you. Accept it, my 
dear Miss Lea, as the first instalment of the biggest piece of 
work I shall ever like to undertake. It was out of deep love for 
you that I undertook it, so that you can imagine what a sacred 
task it IS to me. . . . 

In reply to this I wrote on June 17 : 

Dear Professor Wright, 

I am glad you are coming on Friday [June 19]. You are too 
good to me to put up with my doubts and difficulties so long, 
and even to think them right and good! And that when I am 
givmg you so much ‘agony’ of mind. It is a horrible state of 
things. As to the Dictionary — ^it makes me feel dumb. I can’t 
say ‘thank you’, as if it were just an ordinary book — when I 
know that it is really more poetical than any other work of the 
age! And you have had such a beautiful copy pnnted for me. 
I do Hke it very much, only I don’t deserve it at all. I was 
really very much pleased to get it, and your letter too. 

Yours very sincerely, 

Elizabeth M. Lea. 

The interview took place and the followmg letter was written 



ENGAGEMENT 231 

immediately afterwards. Evidently we had talked about my 
plan of going to Germany for the vacation. It had long been 
arranged that my fnend Miss Edith Miller — one of my first 
pupils in Oxford — ^and I should go together to Gottingen, 
starting on June 25. There we both meant to work senously at 
German, taking private lessons, and attending Umversity 
lectures. I was hopmg ultimately to qualify for a German 
Degree. 

June 19, 1896. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

I have looked up the trains. My impression is that you will 
find it better after all to travel via Flushmg. I find that the 
Company runs much better boats than formerly in order to 
compete with the G.E.R. In the former case the fare is only 
slightly higher now, formerly it was much higher. If you go via 
Flushing you will arnve m Gottingen at 5.29, but via the Hook 

at 10 43 !! I enclose herewith the latest time-table I should 

feel very unhappy.if you went via Ostende The boats are 
bad. ... I have had bitter experience with this route. ... If it 
IS not too great an intrusion on my part, may I come to town 
on Thursday to see that your and Miss Miller’s luggage is duly 
registered, and to see you ‘off’? I am very much afraid that I 
stayed this afternoon longer than I ought to have done, and 
that I bored you with such a prolonged visit. . . . 


June 21, 1896. 

Dear Professor Wright, 

Many thanks for your kind letter, and for the time-table. It 
was very good of you to look out all the trams. We shall now 
go via Queenborough and Flushing — ^that route has vanous 
advantages over tl^e others. It is very kind of you to think of 
takmg the trouble to come to London to see us off — ^but really 
I would rather you did not. My brother and sister-in-law will 
be there, and all Miss Miller’s relations, so that we shall be 
well looked after. 

I had a long letter from my Mother the other mght, which 



23a ROMANCE 

disturbed me a good deal. She thmks I am treating you so 
badly and unfairly — ^and that seems so homble. Miss Weisse 
says you are ‘a deal too good for me’ — ^and, as you have dis- 
covered, she IS a remarkably wise person, and I believe she has 
put her finger on the point whence come all my doubts and 
perplexities. However I am hoping to have opportumty for a 
good long talk on Wednesday. 

Believe me. 

Yours very sincerely, 

Elizabeth M. Lea, 

June 22. 

Dear Miss Lea, 

I am so pleased to hear that you are going via Flushing 
I shall ever cherish your dear Mother for the kind and touching 
letter she wrote to me eleven days ago. Although it may not be 
right to show you the letter, I will do so on Wednesday if you 
would care to see it, for it expresses so clearly, so pointedly, and 
so immistakably my own views on the great and solemn prob- 
lem which we two are facmg. It contains however one passage 
which I cannot help quoting here; ‘She will have told you 
how very strongly I feel that there can be no married happiness 
without true love on both sides, and that she can do you no 
greater injury than to accept your offer without the deep affec- 
tion of which I know she is capable.’ Such is the verdict, my 
dear Miss Lea, of a most noble, wise, and experienced woman, 
and It IS my hounden duty to you to accept that verdict, and 
nothing else. That will show you how very highly I esteem your 
dear Mother’s opinion. On the other hand, I do hope you will 
pardon me for not agreeing with her in everything. I cannot 
agree ivith her m thinking that you are ‘treating’ me ‘badly’, or 
‘unfairly’. You have done neither. You are treating me in a 
manner which every good and true woman shmdd treat a man. 
Whilst the verdict is pending, the agony and anxiety may be 
most terrible ; but if the man has true and genuine love, he has 
at any rate the satisfaction that the final decision is the nght 



ENGAGEMENT 


233 

one. You know very well that what I feel I say without fear 
whether it concerns a most serious question of this kind or of 
any other kind Whatever might have been our feelmgs towards 
each other in the past and present, it is possible that we should 
not have come to the right understandmg of each other without 
this sore and severe tnal on both sides. You can never realize 
all the anxiety I have undergone for the pain I have caused you. 
Had the pain and misery been all on my side I would have 
endured it hke a man for your sake. But it has been willed 
otherwise It is not fault on either side, but destiny. , . . 

Mtss Weisse. Evghfield Green June 23, 1896. 
Dear Professor Wright, 

I see from your note to Miss Weisse that you are supposing 
Staines to be the station forthisplace — ^whenitshouldbe^^/jcw. 

You told me that the tram arrived at 12 44, and on the as- 
sumption that you are always nght, I supposed that the tram 
I had looked up was wrong, so I did not contradict you. I 
expect you at i p.m. tomorrow, and shall be much disappomted 
if you go somewhere else instead. 

Yours very smcerely, 

Elizabeth M. Lea. 


Dear Miss Lea, 


June 23, 1896. 


Thank you very much for your great kmdness in correcting 
my time-table which, as you will see, is all wrong. And the 
worst of it IS I could not find my time-table straight off when 
I received your letter this evenmg, so the first thmg that entered 
my head was the following epitaph which was wntten for me 


many years ago : 

Here hes Joe Wnght 

As queer a wight 

As hes these stones among 

Who strange to say though always (W)nght 

Was sometimes in the wrong. 

Hh 



ROMANCE 


234 

I went down to the Union this evening. You are nght, I am 
wrong, or at any rate my time-table ... I do hope you had 
received my last letter before you wrote yours, it contams all 
that I wanted to know: — ^i.e. whether you are happy. 

I am looking forward to our meeting tomorrow vpith un- 
bounded joy and gladness. 

Yours ever, 

J Wright. 

The outside circumstances which marked this histone 
‘meeting’ were not cast m the same mould as the psychological 
crisis to which we were approaching They — or we — ended in 
being simply ridiculous. Joseph Wright duly arrived at Egham 
station on Wednesday, June 24, where I met him, and we drove 
up to Northlands in a shabby ‘fly’ to lunch with Miss Weisse. 
Our conversation in the cab, I remember, ran eagerly on the 
success, or otherwise, of my pupils in the Gothic ‘collections’ 
he had given them After lunch. Miss Weisse suggested that 
we should take a walk m Windsor Forest, to which she — ^as a 
local resident — ^had the pnvilege of free entrance It was barely 
half a mile to the nearest gate, so we soon found our way m, and 
we walked along rides between enormous trees, till we finally 
came to a bench beside Virgima Water. Here we sat down 
and seriously came to grips vpith the subject m hand. This took 
some time, and before it was fimshed we seem to have left 
the bench and wandered among the trees of the forest, where 
we at last found a happy solution of the vital question We 
then began to thmk of retracing our steps to Northlands. We 
were rather vague as to our whereabouts m the matter of 
mundane geography, but presently conung to a gate which 
pelded at once to our key, we readily assumed that this was the 
gate by which we had entered, and that we were therefore close 
to Northlands. However, when we gained the road, an expanse 
of fresh woods and pastures new met our gaze, and we realized 
that we had not found our way, but lost it! In spite of Joseph 
Wright’s beard, and my advanced years, we must have looked 



ENGAGEMENT 235 

like babes emerging from the wood, for a passing baker stopped 
his cart and asked what he could do for us. ‘Englefield Green' 
Why, you are miles away from there' I am dnving in that 
direction and can give you a lift.’ I have never before or since 
seen a baker conveying lost pedestnans. Maybe he was an 
extra specially good Samaritan, but I still believe it was we 
who looked so forlorn that not even a Levite could pass by on 
the other side Anyhow, the baker set us both in his cart (it 
was the old-fashioned high, two-wheeled type), behind — ^if not 
on — ^his beast, and brought us on our way. He took care of us 
to the last, for when we had left him, we heard him shouting 
further gmdance, although we were almost at the gates of 
Northlands and could not go astray. Our kind fnend Miss 
Weisse insisted that Joseph Wnght should not return to Oxford, 
but should stay where he was till the morrow. She had no room 
for him in the house, but there was an empty cottage near by, 
in the village, which she had bought to accommodate some of 
her School staff. §he hastily sent down furmture and bedding, 
and there Joseph Wnght lodged for the night. It was too late 
for me to throw up my trip to Germany, for I was due to start 
the very next day. Joseph Wnght naturally now waited to 
escort me up to London. 

Only a few weeks ago, when I was actually wnting this story, 
Miss Weisse told me a httle incident which I had not heard of 
before . She says she espied Joseph Wnght standing pensively in 
her garden, and called out to himfromher study window . ‘Iknow 
what you are thinking about. Dr Wnght. You are wanting to 
buy Lizzie a nng, and you are thinking you haven’t got money 
enough m your pocket to do it. I will lend you the money. 
How much do you want?’ He replied that she was ‘a witch’, 
and gratefully accepted her help in his dilemma. When we 
reached London he told the cabman to dnve at once to a 
jeweller’s. The latter asked for more exphat instructions: 
‘Drive to any first-class shop. No Jews’, said Joseph Wnght, 
with great firmness. So we found ourselves buying each other 
a ring in Bond Street. Miss Miller declared that she received 



236 ROMANCE 

the shock of her hfe when I appeared on the platform at 
Victoria Station, not only accompamed by Dr. Joseph Wnght, 
but engaged to marry him! I suppose she had looked upon him 
as I had done at the beginning — ^as an elderly 'scholar, who 
thought of nothing but books and the inculcating of book- 
knowledge. The only expression of dissatisfaction in my 
engagement came from my old nurse at home. When she was 
told all about it she said m disappomted tones . T had always 
looked forward to Miss Lea having a butler.’ 

The letters will now speak for themselves. Where my 
extracts seem scrappy, it is often because I have cut out of its 
context some pregnant sentence, occasioned by family matters, 
or put m at the end of a long discourse on practical matters 
connected with the new house. 

Gottingen. June 27, 1896. 

. . It was so good of you to let me still come out here. You 
can’t think what a boon to me the quiet of it is. I have just 
had a letter from Mamma asking me to ‘explain the change’. 
I can’t, can I ? But I think I have satisfied her. ... It is just 
the strength of your love which I am hving on, without even 
necessarily thinlnng consciously of it. You know I told you in 
the cab that I was always frightened over London crossings, 
and so I really was, but when we came back to Victoria, and I 
knew you were there, it was all different. I could have gone 
through perpetual crossings, and that without actually taking 
your arm, or even seeing you. So, by relying solely on you, I 
shall soon become self-reliant. . . . 

Edith Miller is very kmd and good, and ready to be fnvolous 
like me. She says you have qiute ‘spoilt’ me already, and she 
no longer has any respect for me! I have to be continually 
tellmg her that I am not ‘like people m books’. She threatens 
to drown you when you come. 

The Frau Doktor met us at the station last night, and I tried 
to be most amiable in fluent German all the way up m the cab. 
But the worst of it is, that I feel always that the world only 
contains two persons of any importance, i.e. you and me, and 



ENGAGEMENT 237 

nobody else is engrossingly interesting, just yeti I am yearning 
for a letter from you, but by my wnting first, you will have my 
imbiassed opinion! . . . 

Gottingen. June 28, 1896. 

The postal system of this country is m a wretched state — ^not 
one single letter from you have I had! I shall grow quite old 
instead of young, you will see. I have not yet broken it to the 
Frau Doktor that I am only staying a month, and I felt a perfect 
fraud when I asked Mrs. Kielhom if I could attend some lec- 
tures. They all expected me to be so ‘fleissig’ — ^but they httle 
know! . . . 

The more I think of it the more it seems to me marvellous 
how you managed to see through me. But I am not half so 
repentant for my bad behaviour as I ought to be, it is so nice 
to know that you have forgiven me, without my even askmg 
you so to do. I beheve you won’t know me when you come out 
here to see me, I shall be such a changed being I am even now 
becoimng hombly, ‘like people in books’ at times. You will 
have to find it pleasmg to see me hke such. . . . 

The Frau Doktor rather rebuked me last night for talkmg 
Enghsh at table. But really I think English is better than bad 
German. However I suppose I must not do it agam. I feel so 
benevolent towards all these young thmgs here, that I thought 
it was kind to say something. Last evenmg the Frau Doktor 
had a party. I am always in fear of shocking their feelings by 
not knowing their queer little ways, but I suppose they are 
used to it. It was a musical festivity, but the music was not 
very good, and I begged to go to bed early. People m books 
would not sleep, but I am fearfully sleepy here. I don’t even 
dream of you! So there, you need not picture me as wasting 
away. ... 

6 Norham Road, Oxford June 28, 1896. 

My Dear Elizabeth, 

You can never feel what a great relief it was to receive your 
post card this evemng. . . . 

However long I may hve I shall never forget last Wednesday 



238 ROMANCE 

afternoon. Whilst sitting on that seat we both underwent more 
pain than most people do in the course of a long life. But, my 
darling Elizabeth, painful as it was at the time, it was the very 
best thing that could have happened to us in this world Not- 
withstanding that I had loved you so deeply and so truly for 
all these years, it was the real test whether there was any flaw 
in my love, but there was none. You too must have seen and 
felt that The pain and mental anxiety to you and me on that 
most memorable occasion will ever remain fresh in my mind. 
. . . For years I have felt, my darling, that when the right 
moment came, you would imdergo the most ternble pain you 
have undergone. It lay m your nature, my dear Elizabeth, it 
lay in your nature It is the fault of nobody. Now that it is all 
over, I am the happiest man m the whole world. And it will 
ever be my one end and aim in life to make you perfectly happy, 
for to me at least the ‘likes’ of you has never lived upon this 
earth. Marriages are said to be made in heaven and I am sure 
ours was, or else someone would have taken. you away from me 
long ago. It has been willed otherwise, you have been spared 
to me until I was sufficiently circumstanced to offer you my 
stout and manly heart. . . . 

I had a letter from Miss Weisse this morning in which she 
says : ‘ I am much looking forward to news of Lizzie now. I hope 
she may soon learn to trust her own happiness — she has good 
cause.’. . . 

Yours ever, 

Joe. 

Oxford. June 29, 1896. 

What a treat to receive your most joyful letter! I am over- 
whelmed with joy just now to think that yoij are really happy, 
and what is more, that we two are perfectly happy. . . . With 
your love I can do everything, but without it nothing. When a 
man successfully carries out what to the rest of the world seems 
quite impossible, it is safe to assume that a woman is really the 
cause of the success, although she might never know it. But 



ENGAGEMENT 239 

you do know it now, for I told you in my second letter Every 
man who has ever thought and contemplated seriously upon 
the great problems of hfe must have come to the conclusion 
that woman is the source of all true happiness. And now that 
my ideal in this hfe is known to you, I do hope that I may be 
the participator of that true happiness. . . To hear that you 
are ‘filled with calm and peace’ is heaven enough for me. It was 
absolutely necessary that you should go to Germany to get those 
feelings. You were sorely in need of it. When you have had 
time to rest from the hurry and bustle of term time, there will 
be a great awakemng of the soul and heart and you will see 
clearly once for all that we two for a long time past have been 
inseparable for the rest of our hves. With you it was un- 
conscious, with me conscious. The difference is not great, but 
until the unconscious is turned into the conscious the gulf 
seems very great, but it is not so really. To explain why one 
particular man and woman should prefer each other to all other 
mortals, has bafHed,philosophers, metaphysicians, and logicians 
for all ages. It is an indescribable something which will 
probably remain unexplained to the end of the world. If ever 
anyone should succeed in analysing it, it may be foimd to be 
some very minute particle, the size of which can be neglected 
for all ordinary purposes. It cannot be weighed in the finest 
balance or seen by the strongest microscope. But there the 
particle is all the same. I know and feel that this particle exists 
in our two hearts and can never depart so long as we breathe. . . 

I too have had a letter from your dear Mother. Yes, you can 
‘explam’ the so-called ‘change’. At the time you were not 
conscious that you love me, but now you are; that’s the sole 
difference. If I had mistaken you all these years, it would have 
been the first great mistake I had ever made in my life And 
I should smcerely pray to die to end the result of such a 
miserable mistake. I have wntten to your dear Mother by this 
post a letter of which I enclose a copy herewith. I think you 
will agree with me that I have done the nght thing. Put im- 
phcit confidence and trust in me, my dear Elizabeth, I am 



240 ROMANCE 

accustomed to facing any difficulties. I will pull us both through 
this matter in a far more pleasant manner than you may think 
just this moment. I can face anjrthing where you are con- 
cerned. And the greater the difficulties, the stronger my nerves 
are on such occasions You will see what I have written. . . . 

Don’t think me harsh but I really must repudiate the idea 
you have that you have treated me ‘horndly’. You have done 
nothing of the kind. And I must ask you with all my heart 
not to think that I am most patient, all-suffering, and all- 
enduring. It would be qmte wrong if you did. You are what 
you are by the will of Him who rules all things. It is your 
nature, my dear Elizabeth, and had you treated me otherwise 
It would have been wrong . . . 

Goodbye for the present, my dear Elizabeth, we shall soon 
meet, I am working hard with a most gladsome heart to get 
away. 

Ever yours unto death, 
. Joe. 

June 29. 

Dear Mrs. Lea, 

I was just going to write to you when your kind letter arnved 
this evemng, as I was very desirous to tell you that your dear 
daughter and I are engaged to be manned. I need hardly say 
how dehghted I shall be to accept your very kind invitation as 
soon as she returns home from the Contment. I don’t feel that 
I have a nght to introduce myself to you and your family in her 
absence. And this is my reason for waiting until her return. 
But I cannot close this short note without expressmg my deep 
sense of gratitude for your kind sympathies with me in the great 
and solemn question which your dear daughter and I have had 
to face. And now that it is happily all over, I clearly see how 
very wise it was that we should be left to settle the question 
by our own two selves alone. Advice is good, and it is even 
sometimes useful, but in a most serious matter of this kmd, the 
real decision must be left entirely to the cm woman and one 



ENGAGEMENT 


241 

man who are destined, or who are not destined, to be umted 
for the rest of their hves. 

I remain, dear Mrs Lea, 
Yours very sincerely, 

J. Wright. 

Gottingen June 29, 1896 

Can it be that in my disturbed state of mind I gave you the 
wrong address ^ I refuse to beheve that you have not written, 
but It seems fearfully long to wait all this time . . . 

Sometimes I wonder how I can wait three weeks, so if you 
can arrange to come sooner, I think I won’t say I am fnghtened 
at you' I told the Frau Doktor yesterday, and she was imghtily 
interested, only I know now she will expect me always to look 
‘sentimental’ hke people m (German) books. Of course she 
will be charmed to find a room for you here. It is hke a mixed 
boarding-school. We all went out for a walk last evemng with 
the Frau Doktor in,the forest. And then the good lady thought 
I looked tired at supper, and insisted on my dnnkmg a glass of 
wine. I did so to please her, though I id not in the least 
need it. 

I feel smgularly loath to take the trouble to attend German 
lectures and have lessons, but it is stupid to come all the way 
out here for nothing. This mormng I must go and call on the 
Professors to whom I have introductions I shall get Edith 
to come too, to keep up my spirits. If you don’t come out soon, 
I shall be a confirmed worshipper of graven images, m the 
shape of my nng* . . . 

Oxford. June 30, 1896. 

Your last letter cheers and delights me beyond measure. 
It is such a comfort to me to know that you are happy and that 
you have that peace of mmd and soul which was so very 
necessary for you after what you have undergone dunng this 
most eventful month of our hves. ... I feel just now how 
utterly inadequate language is to express my immeasurable love 
for you. Mine, my dear Elizabeth, is not of the ordinary type ; 

li 



ROMANCE 


242 

It is a type peculiar to my nature and character : — once there, 
It IS there for ever, whatever may happen nothing could weaken 
It ... In that I am, and ever shall be, as firm and strong as 
the ‘Rock of Ages’ we read of in that most beautiful hymn. . . . 
When I built up my love for you, I did not build it upon sand 
or air, I built it upon the Rock just mentioned before. Never 
let the thought ever enter your mind that ‘my hope in you will 
ever flag for one moment’. I shall chng to you with my stout 
heart until it ceases to beat. Where there is true, pure, and 
unadulterated love, there is no trifling ... I have very plain and 
pronounced feehng in all matters of this kind For I had set 
myself an ideal to strive and hve for many, many years before 
I found It. But I did find it in 1889 and there is no other ideal 
for me in this world. . . . For me ‘to see through you’ was not 
at all ‘marvellous’. You are entirely like me in one respect: 
you are utterly without varnish I see you now as I saw you 
long ago . . capable of loving once m a long hfe-time, but 

never twice. 

Once for all, my dear Elizabeth, let me entreat you never to 
mention in the future that you have treated me badly. Any 
reference to such a thing causes me considerable pain, and I 
know that you will not pain me wilfully. It was my bounden 
duty to you to undergo this severe test. . . . 

Gottingen June 30, 1896 

I am come to the conclusion that you are waiting to hear me 
say that I cannot exist without letters from you before you will 
allow me one' Or else you think it is young and, like people 
in books, to want a letter every day, or write one, as I do. But 
you must remember that I am growing ten years younger. You 
addressed Mrs. M’s letter and that is all' (N.B. You can take 
this as seriously as you please.) . . . 

Gottingen. June 30, 1896. 

Your letter was lying on the stairs with a pack of others when 
I came in at 7 p.m. this evenmg, and it was worth waitmg for. 
. . . Do you know when people wnte and congratulate me their 



ENGAGEMENT 243 

words in so many cases seem so paltry, as if you and I might 
be just anybody I One person says you are ‘kind and good- 
tempered and sincerely attached’ to me 1 1 I laugh even now 
as I write it. ‘‘Eand’ Sir, I am yours ‘sincerely attached’. 

Those people who said those things to you were homd; I 
feel quite angry with them! For all you had said you mig ht 
have already been and gone and marned somebody else, and 
I should never have had the nght to make any complaint. 
(Only the hypothesis is absurd ) 

The Frau Doktor takes a mighty interest m me and tells aU 
her friends about me This afternoon I went into the drawing- 
room where she was with two chanmng {d la German) ladies. 
I was intreated to take a seat on the sofa, and the lady by me 
knew all about you and asked what your name was and I had 
to spell It out. And then the Frau Doktor left ojff conversing 
with the other lady and called out that she was ‘jealous’ because 
I was telhng her friend more than she knew. So I had to spell 
it out for the whol^ company and they made httle jokes about 
(W)nght, and had an immensely good time' It was as good as 
a play. 

I am evidently expected to look ‘schuchtern’ and ‘bewegt’, 
and I feel I don’t look the part a bit* The Frau Doktor told me 
last mght that I looked as if I wrote poetry Do I? 

You and I are to sit up here m our sitting-room when you 
come. I am getting a huge appetite which I am sure is qmte 
un-‘schuchtem’ In the middle of the German reading this 
mormng I meditated on how nice it would be to have German 
lessons from you. Edith Miller and I get on splendidly; she 
always knows how to meet my frame of mind. We generally 
chaff each other half the day. I also give her homilies, senous 
and otherwise. §he has a heretical notion that it is much 
stronger and more independent to be alone in the world. I of 
course know that this is wrong: I never was so strong and 
independent before! Nor were you, though you even called 
me ‘Elizabeth’ because I told you to, and for no other 
reason. . . . 



244 ROMANCE 

You don’t want me to wnte about the new house and the like 
and to be ‘practical’, do you? Because if you do, you must go 
without. (If I was not so happy I should write in a more serious 
vein.) It seems ages since last Wednesday. I do hope you will 
know me again when you come, but I am quite a changed 
being. . . . 

Oxford, July i, 1896. 

It IS just a week today since we two underwent that awful and 
solemn ordeal. It seems almost ages ago, and yet it has been 
a time most precious and dear to me, for it has afforded my 
poor weary haggard brain a little rest. All these years I have 
never known what it is to have my mind at peace and free from 
anxieties, so you can see from this what a boon and blessing 
you are to me 

I can bear and endure anything for your sake ... I will ever 
be a sure haven of refuge to you and will hold and prop you up 
whenever dangers and trials are near. I have sufficient force 
of will and strength of character for that and a great deal more 
if need be. They are two dangerous weapons, but they are two 
of the best weapons anyone can possess if only they are wielded 
in what IS nght and proper. . . . 

Although it would mean closing the ‘Workshop’ and throw- 
ing 5 compositors and one proofsheet reader out of employ- 
ment, I will come to Gottingen by the very next tram if 
you really wish it. If you can just manage to wait until the 
end of next week, I can get away then without any great diffi- 
culty. I leave myself entirely in your hands in this matter. 
I could, I think, leave here in time to catch the boat on 
the Fnday evemng. Will that do? But I must be plain and 
open with you: The simple and plam truth is that I feel it 
impossible to wait three long and weary \^yeks without see- 
ing my dearly beloved one. So you see I am rather selfish 
in my arrangements in coming to Gottingen before the time 
we fixed. 

I can quite imagine how mterested the Frau Doktor was 
when you told her. I was introduced to her daughter at the 



ENGAGEMENT 245 

Press last Saturday. I told her I should be in Gottingen in a 
fortnight^ ^ I told her nothing more, so she will be quite amused 
when she hears of my errand. 

Though you may not see me m the flesh for ten long days 
yet you shall see my shadow tku very next Monday I had my 
photo taken at Hills & Saunders’ yesterday mormng I asked 
the man m the studio how soon they would be ready and he said 
in about three weeks, as they are so very busy just now I gave 
him a real good and genmne shake of the hand, and said* 
‘Look here my dear fellow, this is what’s to be done I must 
have proofs by tomorrow mght at the very latest, and two 
copies of the fimshed thing on Saturday without fail, and what 
IS more, they must reach my house in time for the foreign mail.’ 
That rather staggered him, but my tone of voice and the firm- 
ness with which I said it fetched him — ^to use a slang phrase — 
and he replied ‘You shall have them without fail’ So that little 
job’s over. . . . 

It was no mere strange coincidence that the first Part of my 
life’s work was published on the very day of our engagement 
There is a beautiful German proverb which I will pervert on 
the present occasion, for in that form it will hold good for all 
ages — ^Der Mann denkt, die Frau lenkt [Man proposes, woman 
disposes] You doubtless can supply the right nouns, if not, 
just ask the dear Frau Doktor, and don’t be angry with me for 
having perverted such a noble proverb. Here’s a saying I 
should never pervert • Wer viel bedenkt, wird wemg leisten pHe 
who deliberates much will achieve httle] I am gomg to stop 
this kind of thmg or else you will really think I want to give 
you a lesson in German . . . 

Splendid I Just as I am fimshing this letter the proofs of the 
photo have come^. They are only ‘rough proofs’. They seem to 
be all nght, but I am so much afraid lest you should not hke 
the one I have chosen, I am afraid lest you should think it a 
hornd portrait of me. Tell me so quite frankly if you think so, 
and I will bum the lot, and never venture to have it taken agam 
at that shop at any rate. 



ROMANCE 


346 


^ _ Oxford. July i, 1896, 

My Dearly Beloved, ^ 

There really must be something wrong with the post. I have 
your right address I have received your letter by the 10 o’clock 
post to-night saymg that you have not received a letter from 
me yet. Did you ever receive my telegram? Unless there is a 
letter m the mormng, I shall wire again and if I do not receive 
a reply I shall leave here for Gottingen to-morrow. I cannot 
stand this. . . . 


In our dear country the postal arrangement is a most sacred 
institution. How it all comes about I am at a loss to know. 
This is the very first time in my life that I do not know what 

to do. . . . 


The English post is absolutely without a flaw, so I shall write 
to our Postmaster General to ask him to institute inquines how 
so many letters to the same person can possibly have gone 


wrong. . . . 


Yours until death separates us, 
- Joe. 


Oxford. July 2, 1896. 

I was in a most sad state of anxiety when I wrote to you last 
night. I could not make out how it was possible that you did 
not receive my first letter on Tuesday morning at the very 
latest. There certainly was a delay somewhere I posted it on 
Simday mommg. It was good of you to telegraph back at once. 
Had I not received it to-night just after 8 o’clock I should have 
gone to London by the last tram to catch the day boat to- 
morrow morning That telegram was a rehef to me. . . . 

I shall sleep tonight, for your letter is such a relief to my 
worn-out brain. Except the few days since last Wednesday week. 
It has had no rest for many many years. Whoever I have done 
all these years, and whatever I shall do in the future, has been 
done and will be done to make myself really and truly worthy 
of such a woman as you. With me it has always been : What 
will Lizzie think of it? Will it please her? I had no right to it, 
but the word Lizzie has been so familiar to me all these years 





ENGAGEMENT 247 

that you now cannot wonder why I asked you not to mind if 
I called you Lizzie sometimes until I got accustomed to 
Elizabeth. . A little remark you let drop when you were 
staying in the' Crescent here years ago, made me feel very proud 
indeed. It was a most casual remark, a remark which you 
probably cannot recall just now, but it inspired me with a world 
of strength to labour and toil for you. 

Had you gone home last Thursday week instead of going to 
Germany, the result would have been the same in the long run. 
It was so wise of you to adopt the latter course You have thus 
been thrown upon your own resources entirely and have time 
and opportunity to learn and know your own dear self. Had you 
adopted the former course, I feel sure you would have suifered 
very much unnecessary gnef and pain You have time. Search 
your own heart to the very bottom and you will find that we two 
have been inseparable fora long, long time. With you itwas un- 
conscious, with me conscious There is the difference, but the 
difference is not great when it comes to be summed up. . . 

Be sure to plan some mce excursions for us by the time I 
amve in Gottmgen. You won’t forget, will you? that I shall 
arrive on Wednesday by the very first tram there is from 
Hanover. It seems ages smce I saw my dearly beloved one, and 
there are still nearly six days. It’s homd to think of it. Had 
it been anything else in the world I could have waited patiently 
and quietly for weeks, months, nay even years until the nght 
moment came. But not to see you for nearly six days is simply 
dreadful. You must never forget — I never told you before — 
not only is my love for you unbounded but also my respect. 
You may possibly think that there can be no true love without 
great respect, but there can and there often is. These two 
virtues are blended together with me I could say much more 
if there were time but if I wnte even 5 minutes longer I shall 
not catch the post. Yours ever, 

Joe. 

P.S. I have received hundreds of lettem about the Dictionary, 
I have not read a third of them. I can’t, I can only think of you. 



248 


ROMANCE 


Gottingen July i, 1896. 

Jiist one week! And it seems like years. Your telegram 
came at midnight; it was so good of you. . . . The whole 
house enjoyed the excitement of that telegram amazingly. 
First of all the man rang up the first and third stories, who 
of course knew nothing about it; and then the Frau Doktor 
was awaked and she called up the servant and one of the 
girls, and they went and awoke Edith and then came to me, 
whilst the Frau Doktor waited outside to learn if the news 
were good or bad. I was qmte the heroine of the breakfast 
table. But you do understand that I had not the slightest 
shadow of a doubt of you because it seemed long to wait for 
a letter? Nothing in heaven or earth do I feel to be more sure 
and true. 

This morning we went to a lecture on constitutional history, 
a lecture to ladies only. The lecturer spoke very clearly, but 
though I knew most of the words I made very little sense out 
of them. Do you think I shall ever have a^y brains again? I 
kept thinking of you and the telegram and it was a fearful 
labour to be attentive I am glad you are ‘sincerely attached’ 
to me> . . . 

I found your letter after tea at about 5.30 or so, and I ran 
away mto my room to feast on it I never read your letters in 
public — I couldn’t. I wish you would not think of having 
given me ‘pain’. You never really did. You know even then, 
when I did not ‘consciously’ know my own mind, I used to walk 
about Oxford, and even go to meetings, with a proud feehng in 
the bottom of my heart that somebody loved me more than all 
the world beside. And I was always longing to see you in the 
street. And when the Dictionary came,'and^ I knew you had 
done all that for me, I beamed with pleasure You can say, if 
you like, that I marry you for the Dictionary. I have never 
said all I should to you about that work, and all you say today 
seems far more than I deserve. To think that I should have 
inspired such a man as you! But I will say all sorts of nice 



ENGAGEMENT 


249 

things to you when you come out here. One reason why I 
cannot write proper letters is that it seems impossible to view 
you as a separate individual. . 

Edith and I buy a pound of cherries every day and eat them 
in the Wald. . . . 

Gottingen. July 2, 1896. 

Why have you been mabng yourself ‘aufgeregt’ over again? 
I am so sorry You really must come out here very soon. Of 
course I have had two letters from you, which I constantly read 
and always find refreshing and joyful. ... I said in the telegram 
that I was expecting a letter from you tomght, but none has 
come. However, you see I am perfectly calm. I can even 
receive with enthusiasm a plate of ivild strawbernes which the 
Frau Doktor has sent up to our room. I am eating them now 
(not bemg hke people m books), and find them delicious. This 
afternoon I had a letter from an aunt of mme who asked 
whether I should be married before ‘the end of the Long 
Vacation’ ; so on 1;|ie strength of that I thought I really might 
mention to my Mother that we did not want to wait longer 
than the house-altering required. Really when I got your 
telegram this evemng, I thought the sooner you were mamed 
the better, and had me to look after you and keep you from 
getting into states of mind I am so mce and placid, you 
see, and as you are so ‘smcerely attached’ to me you will 
allow me to soothe you! My nng ghtters beautifully under 
the lamp. 

You won’t hke the unpunctuality of this house. Meals are 
somewhere withm half an hour of the specified time, and the 
post may occur when it pleases. 

This mormng I went and had my photograph taken, to 
please you. (I thought it would be meek and dutiful, you see, 
to a ‘kind and good-tempered’ person hke you.) I expect it 
will be homd. I always feel so extra self-conscious on such 
occasions ; and the photographer tells you constantly to look 
‘lebendig’ and not ‘streng’; and starmg at a given pomt makes 
your eyes feel sleepy and tired. So in some of the positions I 

Ek 



aso ROMANCE 

shall look stern and cross, and in the others I shall look like 
a sentimental German damsel. I hope yours will be more of 
a success. . . . 

July yd. 

Your two letters came this morning at about 9 a.m., the 
German postal system being wholly mad. But you should not 
sit up at night to write to me* . . . One day when we are married 
let us go to Englefield Green and sit together on that seat in the 
forest; don’t you think we might? Edith Miller seemed really 
to wonder how I could go off and read Wallenstein with the 
household just after reading your letters and even after having 
just begun this. But there was nothing really odd in it Things 
which really stir me steady me at the same time, though it 
sounds in words a paradox. I am glad you think I ‘have no 
varnish’; I often think I have lots. . . . 

Oxford. July yd, 1896. 

I have read your last letter so often today ;that unless I take 
care there will be no time left to write to you and that would be 
most disgraceful because I must fulfil my promise to write to 
my all-beloved one once a day. . . . 

If the photos come before the 10 o’clock post goes out I will 
send you three to-mght. They represent three distinct expres- 
sions: (a) the normal Joe. (b) Joe as he appears when return- 
ing papers in class, (c) the Joe that means to remove any 
obstacles that come in his way. I shall be very cunous to see 
wheffier you will adopt the nght classification. What if you 
say I look horrid m all three of them' I have only seen them 
in the rough proof and they all may be bad for anything I know, 
when you see them in the finished state. . . . 

If you don’t know already, you vsill soon learn that I 
am really a very sensitive man in spite of my boisterous 
manner. I am not the least bit nervous, I have nerves of 
steel. . . . 

You know now what love is, but you cannot define it in 
words, just try, and you will see what a difficult task it is. It 





ENGAGEMENT 251 

is easy to feel it and even to talk and write about it, but what 
I should hke to see is: a clean cut defimtition of it. The 
definition could not in any case be short for love includes so 
many attributes. . . . 

. . You can easily guess now how I came to possess that beauti- 
ful picture in my study. A long, long time ago’' you said that 
you would like to see the ongmal in Dresden. Well, of course, 
I couldn’t get the onginal,but I got the one I have, in less than 
an hour after I saw you on that occasion It has always been 
very precious to me, because I felt I had at least one thing in 
my house that you did like. Yes, my dear Elizabeth, everything 
in the world has a history, and that’s the history of the picture. 
What a source of comfort and consolation it has often been to 
me in my depressed moments of doubts and fears lest you 
should never be mine! I could tell you many such little his- 
tones, but they would weary you, and it would be wrong to do 
that. If I don’t take care there will be two people who look as 
if they write poetigr i.e. m the opimon of the Frau Doktor. I am 
looking forward with pleasure to make her acquaintance and 
to thank her with all my heart for her kindness to you. I am 
pleased that she makes you so comfortable. You really (!) must 
be obedient and attentive during the lesson, it’s very naughty 
of you not to do so. Germans take these things so much to 
heart. How very different they are from us Enghsh folk ! ! They 
cannot stand chaff a bit. When I was in Germany I often got 
into trouble on that very account. . . . 

What a grand time we will have in Gottmgen! I am mc«t 
impatient for next Tuesday night to come when I shall start 
from here at 4.25 in time for the boat. Oh my dear Elizabeth, 
what joy it vsall be to me to see you agam, and to walk by your 
side m the Wal^r Look up the song in the German Students’ 
Song Book: 

‘Es steht ein Baum im Odenwald.’ 

* When turning over (dd papers I came upon the receipted bill for this 
picture, dated Jan. 26 , 1894, including ‘thief wire, ‘a estra Strong nails’, and 
‘man’s time’ for hanging. The picture alone cost nearly £7. 



ROMANCE 


252 

The Frau Doktor is sure to know it. We often used to sin g 
it when I was a student. 

This letter will go out by the 10 o’clock post to-night, and 
it ought to reach you on Sunday morning. If I can finish my 
work any time this side of 2 a m. I will wnte again before going 
to bed 

Oxford. July 3, 1896. 

I feel I must write before going to bed, late as it is. Your 
three last letters have made me the proudest man in the world. 

. . . You know how very great my love for you is, but Yorkshire 
people have a strange and most individual peculiarity in a 
matter of this kind. It does really exist I don’t say it because 
I am a Yorkshireman. Mrs. Gaskell, who wrote the life of 
Charlotte Bronte, was not a Yorkshirewoman Read the first 
two chapters, they will speak volumes. We are not quick, bright 
people who make up their minds m the twinkling of an eye We 
are slow to make up our minds m serious and solemn matters. 
But when our minds have been made up, theje is nothing under 
the sun that can change it. I have told you here the whole 
thing, we are slow but sure. If the workers in the higher 
branches of mathematics could always be so sure of what they 
call ‘the known quantities’, they would obtain much better 
results if the so-called known quantities were so sure as in 
our case. 

No, my dearest Lizzie, m spite of your protest, I can never 
forget that I have been the source of much pain to you. It was 
not my fault, it was not yours It was necessary because it was 
your nature. That is the whole thing in a nutshell. It was 
destined by Him who made us that we two should and must 
undergo this severe test before our final umon. Now that the 
storm and battle is all over and there 'is jxerfect peace and 
happmess, we shall never regret that most severe struggle. It 
was a terrible struggle, but it now means the highest ideal that 
can happen in this hfe : — ^there can be no real married happiness 
without true love on both sides. This is how your dear Mother 
put It, and she is right. How ever great my love for you is, 



ENGAGEMENT 253 

you cotild under no circumstances have married me without 
true love on your part. . . . 

GotUngen. July 3, 1896. 

... It will be hke a sort of honeymoon when you come out 
here. The Frau Doktor thinks you are coming ‘furchtbar 
schneir : I think it seems a good long time. But I can wait ; 
you are worth waiting for' . . . 

Today I have had four letters from you, but the last is a very 
sad one. I am so concerned that you should have been so 
anxious and agomsed, and if only I had had the sense to 
telegraph back an answer to your first telegram you might have 
been spared so much pain. . . . 

You will like the Frau Doktor very much , she is a dear old 
soul. The other day I thought she would be pleased if I gave 
her a German bouquet, so I did, and she fell on my neck with 
dehght. She lets me do exactly what I hke, so I come up here 
and write letters to you after supper instead of learmng German 
by conversing in the drawing-room. 

This mormng we called on Fraulein Bettmann, the friend 
of Professor Napier, and saw her and a brother She would 
ask so many questions as to what I did, and what I was going 
to do, and why I had come here, that in self-defence I had to 
tell her I was going to be mamed instead of continmng to give 
lectures. This gave her intense pleasure, and she found much 
‘Spass’ m saying that instead of becoming a ‘Doktor’ I was 
go ing to be a ‘ Frau Professor’ Then her brother took us roimd 
the garden and gave us some lovely roses, and to me a white 
daisy to boot, which was ‘Braut’-ish in some way I cannot say 
exactly how, — ^perhaps you know. 

Do you know a German superstition that if you cut a fresh 
pat of butter you will not be married for seven years? The 
Frau Doktor told us that the first night, and now she thinks it 
would be dreadful if I did it The butter-dish always has to go 
to her first. 

I think I am getting more fluent m my German, but I don’t 
really talk well. The Frau Doktor does not correct me much. 



ROMANCE 


254 

but then I think she would think it unfitting to correct a 
‘Braut’. 

You shall have endless peace when you come out here ; and 
I don’t gneve as I should do over your poor tired brains, 
because it will be so nice to help you to rest. 

. . . Interval wherein I held a long discourse with Edith 
concermng real happiness. She thinks she has never seen any- 
one before absolutely happy . . . 

Oxford. July 4, 1896 {finished July 5). 

. . . There are technical difficulties in the way of enlargmgthis 
house. My landlord’s sister has only a life interest in the house, 
so that she is not inclined to lay out money in improving the 
property. After lunch I am going over a house which will, 
I think, suit us both admirably, even better than if this were 
to be enlarged according to my plans. It has a nicer and larger 
garden in front than mine, and the garden at the back would 
be as large as mine but for the beautiful greenhouse there is 
there. It is bmlt of stone, detached, and is in the next road 
above this. The landlord is my present one and he is prepared 
to let me have it at a moderate rent, if I am wilhng to take it on 
a lease of five or seven years. I have asked him to let me have 
full written particulars of the house before the 11.45 post goes 
out to-morrow mormng in order that I may send them on to you. 
In no case shall I dream of taking the house until you have seen 
It, and unless I get your most unqualified approval I shall not 
take it at all, as I want to do nothing else for the rest of oux hves 
but to study your comfort and happmess. 

... Ido hope the train will arrive punctually at Gottingen next 
Wednesday afternoon. I think it is timed for, 5.29. 

I adopted the right plan m answering the ‘congratulations’: 
those that were formal or anything like approaching it, were 
simply put into the waste-paper basket and remained unan- 
swered. On the other hand those that said I ought to consider 
myself the Inchest man in the world for havmg won such a 



ENGAGEMENT 255 

precious prize etc. it was my duty to reciprocate their most 
excellent sentiments, for they expressed the truth. 

Yes, Iwtll telegraph as soon as I have crossed the‘Swanpath’. 
One day we will go again to Englefield Green, sit together on 
that seat in the forest and read ‘As You Like It’ together. . . . 

I don’t know whether you have ever read the beautiful story 
of Nala andDamayanti in Enghsh,if not, I do hope you will let 
me teach you Sansknt some day in order that you may read 
that in the onginal. It would take too much time to put you 
in full possession of the context just now : 

Damayanti (she) speaks 

In the wild wood, oh my husband, I thy weariness will soothe. 

Like a wife, m every sorrow, this the wise physicians own, 

Healing herb IS none or balsam, Nala, ’tis the truth I speak 

Nala (he) speaks : 

Slender-waisted Damayanti, true, indeed, is all thou’st said. 

Like a wife no friendly medicme to afihcted man is given 

Fear not that I thee abandon, wherefore, timid dread’st thou this ? 

Oh, myself might I abandon, and not thee thou unreproached. 

Damayanti. 

No mdeed, oh nughty monarch, thou wilt ne’er abandon me. 

Well I know thee, noble Nala, to desert me far too true 

Now don’t you really think these passages beautiful? They 
were written more than two thousand years ago. Anaent poetry 
always appeals to my heart more than the modern. The above 
shows clearly that pure, genuine, unadulterated love has existed 
in the human breast for all times and for all ages and amongst 
all races. And there is nothing upon this earth with which it 
can be compared. It is not earthy, it is divine, and whoever has 
not possessed it has never lived but merely existed. And when 
such a person be^mes fairly old he or she should spend the 
few remainmg years m writing ‘The History of wasted Life’. 
I must however stop this, or else there will be two people 
writing poetry in the opimon of the Frau Doktor, as I told you 
in my last letter. . . . 

We’ll have our love letters bound in their proper order one 



2S6 romance 

of these days. They will be so nice to read in our old age. 
What do you think of the idea? Many people destroy them 
afterwards, but I should as soon think of flymg to the moon 
as to destroy e^er any of your letters. I shall always keep the 
painful ones too. I read and re-read even these. The un- 
pression is still there, but the pam has all gone, I had almost 
said ages ago. The time will move so slowly until we meet on 
Wednesday. 

It was not a bit clever of me to think about the photograph. 
To do one’s duty is something different from being merely 
clever. It was my duty to you. My dear old Mother has an 
iron will — ^Bismarck’s is noting compared with it — I obeyed it 
implicitly from my earliest boyhood upwards, but I could never 
obey anybody else but you two, or, to put it more plainly, she 
does not expect me to obey her, and has not done so for 25 long 
years. Why, I will tell you just now, but first let me say that 
I never can, will, or shall obey anybody in the world but you. 

. . Don’t think me too cheeky, but I am ac9ustomed to get the 
very thing I want. When I once make up my mind that such 
a thing is the nght thing to take place, I move almost heaven 
and earth to see that it shall take place. I have influenced the 
destiny of many people m my time, simply because I knew and 
felt what was best for them. I am sure my own dear Lizzie 
will not misunderstand what I mean. In perfect married life 
there is no such thing as obedience on either side. There is 
always a certain amount of give and take, and I can truly give 
a thousand times more than I take. Is that enough for you my 
darling Lizzie ? If not, I will gladly change the a into a million. 
That will surely satisfy you. 

I have no translation of that beautiful Lithuanian song which 
strikes me most just now. It is always mdst difficult to translate 
poetry from one language to another, but I mil try to translate 
it iot you some day. From a linguistic point of view I love the 
Lithuanians more than any other race under the sun. As you 
no doubt know, the hterature is not very old, but what there is 
of It, is pure and unadulterated and altogether unspoilt by 



ENGAGEMENT 357 

what so many people are pleased to call cimhzation. My know- 
ledge of these thmgs is not confined to the so-called Indo- 
Germamc people. My horizon is much larger than you have 
any reason to suppose. I have tned to make myself familiar 
with an awful number of languages, and the more I have learnt, 
the more surely I have come to the conclusion that the so-called 
modem civihzation is downright hypocnsy, and that even 
savage tribes have a far deeper sense of decorum than we have. 

Do you really like Beowulf? There is not a singk Ime of real 
human interest in the whole work. . . lam not latned in the 
Beowulf theory, but I will tell you what I think if you will ask 
me in Gottingen, . . . 

It ’s all very well for Mrs. Wood or anybody else to think that 
we should correspond in German. That language is a poor and 
poverty-stricken thmg for our unbounded love. I caimot con- 
clude until I say that you are my only axidi first love, I have never 
had the f contest love for anybody else. . . , 

Gottingen. July 4, 1896, 

The madness of the postal system of this land does not allow 
me a letter from you today, after four yesterday. The ‘Bnef- 
bote’ seems to find me an mteresting person, for he salutes 
me in the street now before I was aware that I had made his 
acquamtance. . . . 

It rains daily, but I expect the fine weather is saving itself 
up for you. Edith and I are loobng forward to your coming 
in order that you may ‘sit upon’ the Swedish Professor. He makes 
me very angry at meals, he is so pedantic and all-knowing, and 
he even corrects and contradicts the Frau Doktor m the mdest 
way. I cannot think how she can be so gracious to him. Edith 
thinks you Will feel So benevolent that you will not ‘sit upon’ 
anybody. . . . 

I shotdd like to hear you describe the ideal wife you thought 
of ‘many many years ago’. I remember when I first used to go 
to your lectures, how you used to blush when I met you in the 
street, and how nervous I was lest I should blush too, so that 

Ll 



ROMANCE 


258 

m the end I generally did. . . . You are a tremendously peace- 
giving person. The more I think of it, the more wonderful it 
seems that just all and much more than I had ever thought of 
in pictunng to myself what I wanted in love and mamage 
should in the end come to me. Even when people told me ‘men 
never really understand women’ and that such a marriage could 
never be, I still clung to my own chenshed ideal. 

This house has the best situation in Gottmgen : our sitting- 
room vnndow, at which I am now wnting, looks straight up on 
to the Wald with no houses beyond; and you and I are gomg 
to take lovely walks in that said Wald the week after next. Do 
you think I shall ever do any work again, I who have preached 
so many homilies to the young on the blessings of work (perhaps 
not wholly uninfluenced by various letters on the subject from 
you) ? I do just nothing out here but sleep , and write letters, and 
go for walks. But don’t you work yourself mto shreds before 
you come out, to compensate for my idleness. I will try and 
be sensible sometimes, and hsten when you_talk about house- 
building and such like practical matters. I asked the Frau 
Doktor one day what some jam she gave us was made of, and 
she at once thought me a most proper ‘Braut’ meditating on 
cooking: I did not imdeceive her. 

(Later.) I have been playing whist in the drawingroom a 
bit, not to seem churhsh, but I was wishing all the time that 
you were here. You see I do miss having your letter. Only 
mind that you at this point bethink yourself of the httle homily 
I gave you the other day on the subject of not agitating yourself 
over the postal system of Germany, 

There is a funny httle toy soldier who walks up and down 
outside a little toy box at the side of the road, just below this 
house. He amuses me each time I go out*. 

The Frau Doktor is going to give a ‘Tanzgesellschaft’ one 
day soon Edith says it will be ‘schrecklich’ if I dance. I must 
make enquiries mto their little ways, as I should be sorry to 
hurt their feelings. . . . 

(Sunday.) You shall always call me ‘Lizzie’ if you like it so 



ENGAGEMENT 


259 

much, and have lived with it. . . . Wednesday! It seems ever 
so much nearer than Saturday! Of course I shall meet you at 
the station, even if all the trains are late and you do not get here 
till the 10.45 You must telegraph to me from Hanover, or 
before, if you find you are losing time by the way. But you 
always make things do what you wish, so I dare say neither 
the boat nor the trains will dare to be late, and I shall see you 
at 5.29. The Frau Doktor is much excited; and Edith says she 
will forgive you everything if you will ‘sit upon’ the Swede. 

Oxford. July 6, 1896. 

. . . Your dear Mother’s mmd will be at ease after the long 
interview I had with your brother. And from what your brother 
told me on Saturday, I could see that she just wants to kill 
us with kindnesses as soon as she sees us. You will by this time 
have received the letter containing my feelmgs towards her. I 
love her because she is your dear Mother, and it b my smcere 
hope that she can,and will grant me a gram of love m return. 
You will see, I will be a good and even dutiful son-m-law to her. 
It was a great misfortune that she heard anythmg about dates 
at second hand. She naturally felt very much hurt at that and 
quite right too. Although men are not supposed to take the 
fet step in fixmg the date, I do wish now that I had written 
to her on the subject. I had thought of it several times, but I 
was afraid lest she should think it was not my busmess to do it. 
I often go wrong when I follow what b conventional, but hardly 
ever when I foUow the dictates of my own conscience. I am 
very sorry. I would go and see her before commg to Gottingen, 
but I still feel strongly that you and you ahne shall introduce 
me to your dear and good Mother. I shall wnte to her to-night 
a very kind and pleasant letter and send her also one of my 
photographs — ^the one in which my head is in due proportion 
to my body. Which is that ? I feel she is content now, but she 
will be all the more content after receiviag my letter. I do want 
to be very kind to her. There will be no need ‘to come back at 
once’. The stay in Gottingen will do both of us a world of 



a6o ROMANCE 

good. And m any case I could not go to West Kirby without 
some complete rest from work previously, unless I am to run 
the risk of appearing to be a very stupid man which I am not 
m my normal state, but my brain is very very weary just now, 
there’s nobody knows what a temble strain it has had dunng 
the last two years in particular. And you would not care to see 
me looking and feelmg very stupid at West Kirby. I will do the 
right thing when the nght time comes. , . 

I was very sad when I wrote that fourth letter you received 
on Friday, and if I had not received your letter m the evening 
and the telegram, I should have left Oxford by the first train 
in the mormng so as to be in time to catch the day boat. There 
is something very casual about the delivery of letters in Gottin- 
gen, Your letters are such a comfort to me. I read them times 
without number. I even keep the envelopes and number them 
so that I could furnish you with the date and hour each was 
posted, and the date and hour of the delivery! So when I want 
to read again any of your beautiful thoughts, knowing the 
number of the letter in which it occurs, I can find quickly what 
I want. There is nothmg hke method. . . . Can you say such 
and such a thing occurs in number VII of my letters ? I can of 
yours! I do know that you are the most methodical person m 
the world, but did you think of this simple device for the sake 
of easy reference ? . . . 

The German superstition to which you refer is known also 
in the Slavomc countries. I shall be very careful about the 
butter! No more seven years for me, I know what it means, 
you don’t. The plain and simple truth is that I shall not be able 
to do much solid work imtil my dear, are settled down m our 
new home. . . . Tell Miss Miller that if ever she is in the same 
position as we two are, she will have "knoym 4 ^absolutely* 
happy people. . . . 

Oxford. July 7, 1896. 

Although there is a very short time before the 4.30 post am. 
goes out, I do feel that I ought to tell you before I go for a short 
rest that I have just written a very long letter to your dear 



ENGAGEMENT 


261 

Mother. I told you in the train — do you remember — ^that I 
should write to her, but that I could not write such a letter to 
order. I have just wntten the letter, and it was not to order. 
With the exception of my letters to you, it is the most appealing 
letter I have ever written in my life. ... I have sacred and 
solemn duties to your own dear Mother, and I have just per- 
formed them so far as writing can do. . 

The letters now cease for a time. Joseph Wnght left Oxford 
for Germany on the evening of July 8 to join me in Gottingen. 

I remember Miss Miller and I were convinced that he would 
arrive punctually, for we pictured him giving the engine-dnver 
‘a real good and genuine shake of the hand’, and saymg, ‘Look 
here, my dear fellow, this train must not be late!’ I met hun at 
the station, and we betook ourselves to the nearest ‘Bier-garten’ 
for a good long talk. We heard afterwards that a German lady 
and her daughter, m their eagerness to get a first glimpse of 
the ‘Herr Doktor^ had sat in their ‘Garten-laube’ for over an 
hour waiting to see us pass by, till their patience was exhausted. 
Frau Doktor Hummel’s flat was very capacious, and she was 
glad to find room for a guest so welcome to her kmdly and 
romantic heart. She was an excellent hostess, and ruled over 
her strangely assorted house-party with great tact and gemahty. 
Besides the Swedish Professor mentioned in my letters, there 
was a tall, shock-headed, medical student from the United 
States, and a modest theological student from Glasgow, and 
two or three others. The cheery youth from Amenca was a 
great talker, hampered by small knowledge of German, On one 
occasion at dinner he asked the Swede if he knew Enghsh; 
receiving an answer in the afiirmative, he further asked the 
solemn Professor to Exhibit his powers by saying something in 
English. ‘Why do you wish to hear me speak Enghsh?’ said 
the Professor in his best German. So far our young friend 
had been able to proceed comfortably within the limite of his 
vocabulary, but now he was stopped short for want of a smtable 
adjective : ‘Es ware so ... so ... ? komisch’, he at last ejaculated. 



262 ROMANCE 

The Professor was speechless with anger, and left the table as 
soon as possible, though the American seemed unaware of the 
storm he had aroused. The Frau Doktor spent the afternoon 
calming down the offended Swede, and persuading the Ameri- 
can to make a humble apology, before peace could be restored 
in her dovecot. Joseph Wnght was a delightful acqmsition, 
especially as he brought in an element of fluent German 
previously only possessed by the Frau Doktor. There were no 
more ructions at table. The weather was kind to us, and we 
had long rambles in the ‘Wald’, and now and again we invited 
the Frau Doktor to share a country drive vsuth us m the after- 
noon. We bought wild strawbernes from children by the road- 
side, and ate them in the carnage. Needless to say I attended 
no more Umversity lectures. It was the first time I had heard 
or seen anything of German student hfe, and I was struck by 
the novel spectacle of students pacing the town on Sunday 
morning, fresh from Saturday mght’s duels, with patches and 
strips of cotton-wool on their faces. One ^iay when Joseph 
Wright went to have his hair and beard cut, the barber carelessly 
cut through the lobe of his ear. As it happened, the latter was 
accustomed to bmdmg up the wounds of duelhsts, and he was 
therefore able skilfully to repair the damage done, and no 
further harm ensued. 

In those early days of our engagement Joseph Wright still 
retained a schoolmastensh habit of correcting mistakes in 
speech. As I had been one of a large family, including four 
brothers, I still clung to some of our old home phrases and mis- 
pronimciations, relics of youthful jocosity, which often came 
out mvolimtanly. I remember on one of our walks that I 
chanced to make a remark on the ‘picture-skew’ landscape. 
‘PicturesjKe’, corrected Joseph Wright, ii? ail ^seriousness. On 
another occasion, during that same holiday, I said: ‘When you 
are in Turkey, you must do as the turkeys do.’ ‘Turks’, said 
Joseph Wnght magisterially, as if dealing with the Third Form. 
He told me he could not help it, that it was the natural and im- 
mediate reaction of the schoolmaster mind to errors of language. 



ENGAGEMENT 


263 

We left Gottingen on July 18, and I returned home to West 
Kirby, and we once more resumed the daily interchange of 
letters. 

Oxford. July 19, 1896. 

... It would be impossible to estimate what a benefit our stay 
in Gottmgen has been to both of us. And that benefit could 
never have been had on these shores m anythmg like the same 
time. We had nobody else to consider, but our own two selves 
You know what you were to me before I came to Gottingen, 
and since that day you are much much more to me. I now 
know by actual experience much that I could only picture to 
myself before, and I think that you too, are now m something 
like the same position. 

You have never known what it means to feel as I did not so 
very long ago\ so that you can hardly grasp how I feel, now that 
all doubts and fears have passed away never to return again. 
Whatever I may have done m the past, I can do a great deal 
more m the futur9,now that I shall have you to love and cherish 
as my real own. You are the source of everythmg to me and I 
will do you credit yet. 

The tactfulness and business-hke habits of Miss Partridge 
have done much towards making it easy for me to get away 
agam next Wednesday (with ease). She has cleared oflF the bulk 
of the correspondence, and has put the material for the verb 
‘to be’ mto digestible form for me. This was no easy job, for 
the Fragebogen was sent out to 150 people and consisted of no 
less than 194 points for each person to answer. When I get 
back from W.K. it ought not to take me more than about a week 
to wnte the article. 

Your Dictionary has already had long reviews in several 
papers, I have nqt ha 9 time to read them, but there was a very 
long one in the Newcastle Chromcle written by the Editor him- 
self. I will send it on to you when I go to the Press in the 
morning, as you will be pleased to see what people think of the 
work of which you and you alone were the sole origm. If I were 
proud of you for nothing else, I should be proud of you for l^t. 



ROMANCE 


264 

It is enough to make any man feel very proud. . . . And even 
now in spite of all my eflForts for your sake, I do feel that I ought 
to have done much more to make myself truly worthy of such 
a noble and good woman as you are, but the time was limited, 
my dear Lizzie, a man cannot do more than I have done within 
the short space of seven years. My life has not been altogether 
without events, and whenever you come to know these events, 
you will appreciate more than ever that well known passage in 
Hamlet. But the one grand event of my life was that I should 
ever have lived to see you in the flesh. My ideal was formed 
when I was quite a 'lad\ and with me it was always that ideal 
or nothing. I have now found that ideal in you, so that there 
is no need for me to repeat here all that I have said in my former 
letters. . . . 

West Kirhy. July 19, 1896. 

An aunt of mine olfered to give us some dessert knives and 
forks, or a silver sugar basin. I said the latter, because it will 
be very pleasing at the nice little tea-parties you and I are going 
to have together. I will make you some very mce tea, though 
I may tease you now and again on the subject when I am so 
disposed. You see it would be such a sad thing if you did not 
hke my tea, and had to carry out your strict prinaples and ‘never 
no more’ take tea with me again! I should become hke a dried 
tea-leaf myself forthwith. What a picture! 

Don’t work too hard, and don’t sit up at nights, and don’t 
be anxious about me. I might perhaps put it this way : — ^Thou 
shalt not let thine own true love be a care to thee ; thou shalt 
not burn the midnight oil ; thou shalt not wear out thy brains — 
(else will thine own true love scold thee on Wednesday next). 

I hope you are writing a nice letter to me, such as my soul 
loveth, and that you will post it before 5 p.n[i. . . . 

West Kirby. Jtdy 20, 1896. 

, . . We shall always look back on that time in Germany as 
a time which brought us great peace and joy, when we could 
learn to know each other’s soul and mind unhampered by any 



ENGAGEMENT 


265 

interrupting elements. There was something so beautiful too 
in bemg out of doors in such lovely scenery — everything har- 
monised, and not even outside things jarred on us. Sunshme 
and the beauties of nature are real factors in one’s happiness 
sometimes, if not always. . . . 

You wrote that letter in the middle of the mght' I said you 
were not to do that agaml 

Oxford. July 20, 1896. 

. . . When I came to examine the progress of the work made 
durmg my absence, I was much alarmed to find how little had 
been done. It is not that the Assistants have been idle — there 
never was an Editor with such devoted Assistants as I have — , 
but It IS due entirely to the highly organized system which I 
have developed for carrying on the work m the most successful 
and satisfactory manner Each assistant is responsible for one 
httle bit of the work ; hence when I am away, if an Assistant 
meets with difficulties, there is no one who can help her out 
of them. The resplt is that it will take much time to clear up 
the difficulties, and however hard I work they cannot possibly 
be all cleared up by Wednesday. But I am getting each Assist- 
ant to put all her ddSficulties together so that I can go through 
them systematically when I return from West Kirby. . . . 

I am sure you will not mind my havmg some love for my 
dear old Mother. So to say, I have been father, husband, son 
and companion to her for more than thirty years (my Father 
died m 1864).^ I have never known what it was to be yoimg. 
I was plunged, when a mere child, into the severest battles of 
life. And my dear Mother and I did struggle hard for the sake 
of my two brothers who were then httle children. We were 
determined that their lot should not be so hard as ours, so that 
we did manage to gif e them some schoohng, although I never 
was at school a day m my hfe. In fact they could both read and 
vmte long before I ever dreamt of such luxuries. Now you may 
suppose that I have laboured at a very great disadvantage for 
never havmg had any schooling. The very opposite is the exact 

^ This IS a mistake The correct date is 1866. 

Mm 



266 ROMANCE 

truth. Unknowingly I developed an individuality which is 
unique in its kind. I taught myself a deal of the higher branches 
of Mathematics and not a small number of languages. The 
result was that when I came to teach these things I was able to 
present the difficulties to my pupils in an entirely new way, 
because I knew exactly where my difficulties had been. I have 
never told anybody before, you now know why teaching of 
the women here has not been a failure. 


Oxford. July 21, 1896. 

... I have just been to see the landlord. He agrees to all 
the changes we propose, and the house can be ready for me to 
move mto by the end of August. I shall have to take it on a 
pretty long lease from the middle of August. . We’ll have 
no cheap Jack things, what we do have shall be very good and 
nice You know I am what they call in the North house proud. 
I do like the idea of furmshmg, I am j'ust in my element in any- 
thing of that kind. . 

I do hope you liked some of the reviews of your Dictionary. 
I have several more now. I am sending you by this post a 
photograph of one halfoi the big room. It is just twice as long as 
you can see it ; hence you cannot see all the shps and tables where 
the Assistants and Press reader work. My room is through 
the doorway, and through the window you can see where I 
sit, and just a few of the books on the far side of the room. You 

see it is rather a large concern If I live to finish the work, 

the world will have you to thank that it was ever begun and 
finished. . . . 

I have just had the enclosed from Max Muller. I ought 
to tell you, it was he who got me to come to Oxford. He had 
heard my history m the North. WhenT first came here he 
said : ‘You will soon be a made man if you can keep your own 
counsel’, and he was right. . . . 

I can explain things to (your Mother] in a way that you 
cannot be expected to. I am sure she will see my great diffi- 
culties about October 7th and comprehend the serious responsi- 



ENGAGEMENT 


267 

bilities I have, not only to the British public, but also to the 
Bntish Government. There must not be the least doubt m the 
world about the prompt appearance of the next five Parts of 
the Dictionary, and especially about the second Part which 
must be ready in December. I am most anxious to do every- 
thing your dear Mother wishes, but we two have also to think 
of the possible dire consequences if there should be any delay 
in bnngmg out the Parts punctually according to my faithful 
promise to Mr. Balfour. He is so pleased with the ‘excellent 
workmanship’ that he told his Secretary the other day that 
something very substantial ought to be done for me at the end 
of three years, if the work is kept up to the present standard of 
scholarship, and makes the progress I said I would. That’s 
a point which we cannot afford to disregard. . . . 

Oxford. July 31, 1896. 

My long conviction has been far more than confirmed 
that we two stan^ to each other in a far more different light 
than other people do to each other. That such should be the 
case IS not solely due to that strong and firm affection we have 
for each other, but it is in no small measure due to the all- 
important fact : that perfect harmony exists between us. And 
that too, a harmony which can never be shaken. I constantly 
find myself telhng you things which emanated entirely from 
you, just as if they had emanated from me. It is not at all 
intentional on my part, I caimot help it. I never think about 
It. We have so much the very same ideas about things that it 
will become difficult to tell in time which of us had the idea 
first, and who was the first to give expression to it in words. 
Combine this state with that imbounded love we have, and 
we could if neciMsai^ face with cheerful hearts the greatest 
difficulties in the world. You do know how great my love, 
respect, and admiration for you are, but you dx) not know how 
very much good you have done me during the last month. I 
see hfe quite differently now from what I did then. You have 
granted me something truly noble and good to hve for. I shall 



ROMANCE 


26S 

now be able to carry out with a most gladsome heart and with 
perfect ease some of the most cherished objects I have had in 
view for years, even before I came to Oxford. Your Dictionary 
will naturally be the ‘biggest’ piece of work I can ever do, 
but there are several others which I have always wished to 
do, and will do, partly because I can do them in a way 
that not many other Englishmen would do them, but chiefly 
that it will give pleasure to my own dearly beloved one who 
is more than all the world besides to me. . . . 

Oxford. Aug. I, 1896. 

. . . The SIX Assistants left yesterday morning and will not 
return until three weeks next Tuesday. I am thus left alone at 
the ‘Workshop’. But there is plenty of Work to be done during 
their absence. I began the verb ‘to be’ this mormng, which 
will take much time, but I can see already that it will be a most 
interesting article from a philological point of view. There are 
several forms about which I am not yet quite clear, especially 
in the South Western dialects. Several more reviews have 
appeared and I think you will be particularly pleased with the 
one in ‘Notes and Queries’. But the best review appeared 
yesterday in the ‘Scottish Review’. It is not very long, but it is 
evidently done by someone who has read right through the 
book. All these ^d and well-meaning reviews give me much 
pleasure, because they show that you inspired me to do a work 
which will have a permanent value, and one for which I am 
well fitted to imdertake. You can now understand with what a 
proud heart I sent you those miscellaneous specimen articles 
in the early part of last year to get your opinion of them; and 
you can realize too how sad I felt when you seemed to take little 
or no interest in them. Ah, my dear Lizzie, that dtd grieve me 
at the time: to think that you were not mterested m a great 
undertaking which had been begun for your sake, and your 
sake alone. I longed to tell you this trouble when we were in 
Gottingen, but I could not. How everything is changed now! 
And how glad and thankful I am! . . . 



ENGAGEMENT 


269 

Aug 1, 1896. 

Since I finished my last letter this evemng, I have had a 
little time to think about the practical side of our future. . . . 

We cannot hve on love alone, I do wish we could. You have 

never known what want is, I have, and that very bitterly too 

There is no toil and labour which I will not undergo for your 

sake Dunng all these long and weary years my one thought 

has been your future happiness, and so it will be until I die. It 
is so grand to have you to live for Lizzie dear, when I know and 
feel that you do love me with all your heart and soul. I am a 
strong and self-rehant man, but when you are beside me I can 
face the greatest difiiculties in the world with perfect ease and 
calmness. . At West Kirby your presence and soothing effect 
enabled me to become quite clear about a book I have been 
planmng for many years. Lizzie dear, you will now see why I 
was silent sometimes when I ought to have been talking to you. 
It was not wilful neglect on my part, but you have such a com- 
fortmg effect upon my poor weary brain that I am able to think 
problems out in your presence which seem to be unsurmoimt- 
able m your absence. To do the book well is beset with diffi- 
culties, but I am quite clear now, and I will write the book this 
wmter. I ought to call it your book, for without your sym- 
pathetic influence, I imght never have become qinte clear how 
to wnte It : It is a Sanskrit Primer for students of Comparative 
Philology . . . 

Sunday Evemng. \Aug. 2, 1896.] 

... As soon as you have fixed the emct date in October, let 
me know in order to give me plenty of time to make arrange- 
ments for our all too short honeymoon. As you said before, it 
need not be on a Wednesday, so fix the day, if you possibly can, 
as early in the month as possible. There are just now several 
foreign philologists here, and I was asked this mormng to a 
philological dinner party this evemng ... so I went. . . . They 
did cheer me so much because they praised your Grammar as 
h wng a model piece of work. You don’t know how proud and 
glad I feel when real specialists speak about your book, it 



270 ROMANCE 

gladdens me beyond all measure ... I like to hear all this 
about your Grammar and you, although I knew it before. . . . 

Our mutual friend Mr. Stevenson was there too. I hinted 
to him m the most olfhand manner that it would be pleasant to 
iw if he would act as my best man, he took the hint at once and 
said what a great honour it would be to act in that capacity. 

West Kirby. Aug. z, 1896. 

... It would be silly to think we shall never have any trials 
and difEculties, the great thing is not to fear them. I do believe 
all you said in your letter about our nunds being in harmony, 
and it fills me with joyful pride to hear you tell of the work you 
mean to do in the world. My ideal of a great love is just that. 
I would not have you sitting at my feet all your hfe — our love 
would be a very poor enfeebling thing if that was all it fitted 
us out to do. No, as I told you once in Gottingen, I have long 
held the idea (I beheve Miss Weisse first put it before me) that 
even in ordinary fnendship, love for another makes, or should 
make, the fulcrum for you to be of use to the world around you. 
So the stronger the love, the greater the power for usefulness. 
And that I should ever live to inspire such a man as you are, 
is the greatest lot I could ever wish for. You know too, how 
muck you can help and inspire me : I am qiute a different bemg 
to what I was, and I shall continue to grow. . . . 

West Kirby. Aug. 3, 1896. 

... I am dehghted to hear of your new book to come. When 
you want to give me a real deep pleasure, you must tell me that 
I inspire you to plan big works! It rej’oices me more than I can 
say. And it makes me very sad to think how careless I once 
was about you and your plans for the Dictionary. . . . 

Oxford. Aug, 3, 1896. 

. . . However long we may live, it is but a short time com- 
pared to etermty, so it shall ever be our endeavour to have the 
maximum amount of happiness m this hfe. Under the most 



ENGAGEMENT 


vjt 

favourable circumstances we shall at times have our tnals and 
troubles, but they can only serve to strengthen and consolidate 
our happiness We have set ourselves high ideals of life and we 
will always hve up to them A life without high ideals is not 
worth much. . . . 

So long as my love for you was not known to you, it never 
occurred to me that language could imder any circumstances 
fail to give an exact reflex of one’s feelings about anything. 
Here I am who have learnt many many languages and have 
worked much at the pnnciples of language, and yet m this short 
space of time you have taught me how inadequate and imper- 
fect language is as an expression of my feehngs for you. . . . 
You have given me the one thing needful to make my life 
really useful. I always wished to be useful to my generation, 
for It is my duty. To merely hoard up knowledge for one’s own 
private gratification is selfish, especially in my case, for powers 
were given to me which I have no nght to abuse . . 

Oxford. Aug. 4 , 1896 . 

. . . No man or woman can love truly and deeply m this life 
for more than once . . There is no room for ‘views or matters 
of opinion’ m such a senous and solemn question. There are 
however people who think that even flirting is innocent sport, 
but It is not, to my mind it is one of the deadly sins. Although 
I was not brought up on a grand scale, I always at least felt by 
mtmtion and common sense, and above all my unbounded 
respect for womankmd m general, that to trifle with the affec- 
tions of any woman is a most dishonourable act, and as such 
ought to be punishable both here and hereafter. 

Some people have just come in. I wiU continue this by the 
next post. , ' 

Aug. 4 , 1896 . Continuatum. 

. . . What will I not do to make myself a devoted husband 
to you ? To make you truly happy is and ever will be my great 
aim in life. In your presence I always feel so different from 
what I am when we are apart.. We shall always be so happy m 



ROMANCE 


our married hfe, for ours is not the ordinary love, and whatever 
anybody may say, we are not blindly in love. We love each 
other with that perfect understanding which few married people 
ever really possessed. We belong wholly to each other in every 
detail, and that’s what makes really happy marned life. We 
can live and think for each other in the highest degree. Surely 
It must have occurred to you more than once how very com- 
plete our harmony is in all things, httle and Hg. . . It is not 
easy for strangers to learn to understand the real Joe. He has 
been alone in the world for so long, that what he thinks and 
feels about important matters is not told to many , he has been 
so much accustomed to keep his own counsel. ... I have never 
worn my heart on my sleeve, as the saying is. And all my 
friends here and elsewhere know me too well to expect me to 
tell them much that is going on in my rmnd. Such a nature, 
Lizzie dear, has its weak sides, but it is a great blessing to a 
man, or a woman too for that matter, in the long run. It is 
not that I distrust people, but it is because dire necessity 
taught me at a very early age to trust myself. Add to that my 
great trust and faith in you, you will then know what my feel- 
ings are. Some day you shall read with me Cicero’s De Anddtia. 
I don’t agree with all he says, but there is a very great deal of 
truth in much he says on the subject. . . . 

Business 

. . Mr. Stevenson came in this afternoon to ask what sort 
of dress he should wear at our weddmg. I suppose the correct 
thing is a •frock coat, not a morning coat. Am I right? 

Here is also another pomt for you to settle. In the ordinary 
course of things, the banns of marriage are published in two 
churches : In our case it would, of coui^e, l;»e here and West 
Kirby. Is it for me to do that at both churches? . . . Any 
advice on these or other matters will be most gratefully re- 
ceived. ... I am absolutely ignorant in all these matters, I have 
never even seen a wedding and have no idea whatever what it 
is like. 



ENGAGEMENT 


273 

August 5, 1896. 

... I am sendmg you the two reviews of your book, and 
you will notice that the one in N, and Q. begins with a mis- 
statement m spite of the note at the bottom of the second page 
of the Dictionary. Newspapers are so very inaccurate. The 
other two notices of the Dictionary when in preparation will 
show you too that reporters are strangers to accuracy. I will 
send you a bundle of these some time soon, they -will at any 
rate amuse you. Don’t destroy them, they will be useful in our 
old age. . . . 

{Second letter) Aug. 5, 1896. 

. . . Iknowpeoplehavelongsaid'thatlwasinlovewithyou’, 
but one thing is quite certain beyond all doubt: — I never gave 
anybody — except my own dear Mother — ^any reason to suppose 
that such was the case. With that one exception, I kept it to 
myself. Once when quite off my guard, when a man asked me 
a question about Miss Lea, I did let slip', ‘what, my Miss 
Lea?’ But that’s,a long time ago. Some of your own friends 
even went so far — ^that too, long ago — ^as to ask me when it was 
going to come off, but they never ehcited any defimte informa- 
tion. In short, the whole thing was too sacred and serious for 
your sake, my dear Lizzie, for me to go about telhng people I 
was in love with you, I could not have done you a greater 
injustice than to give nse to any such report. I have given you 
my views on this subject before. If a man is really in love with 
a woman, it is his duty to keep it to himself tmtil he is m a 
proper position to say to the woman; I love you. Can you 
accept me to be your husband? No one with any real and 
genume love for a woman can act otherwise, if he acts other- 
wise, it IS what I will call for want of a better name: surface 
love. When I have siid nice and pleasant things about you to 
other people; they were — ^it is true — ^mtended to be conveyed 
to the proper place, but that ’s all. I never breathed the word 
to anybody but my Mother, and we had always been so inti- 
mately associated that I thought I must tell her and did so 
years ago. Surely you must have noticed how very anxious she 



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was to see you once more before she left Oxford. But neither 
you nor anyone else could possibly infer from that woman that 
she was the possessor of a profound secret. I don’t beheve 
there ever was a mother and son whose minds are so much alike 
even in the smallest details. She has been a very great woman 
and is still in her own village, although nobody here knows 
much about her. If ever I live to have time to do it, I shall 
write our history from 1855-1875, just those 20 years. And why 
it should be just 20 and neither more nor less, I will explain to 
you some day. I heard from her this morning, hardly a page 
of ordmary-sized notepaper, but I can read more mto it than 
would occupy sheets. Almost every word is like a page. 
Although she can’t write, if you once saw her in ‘good form’, 
and I mean by ‘good form’ when she feels herself thoroughly 
at ease with the people she is talking to, you would most 
assuredly say ‘That is a most remarkable person with a very 
strongly marked individuality.’ She is a splendid conversa- 
tionalist with any amount of wit and humour, although from 
what you saw of her, you could hardly suspect it. . I do just 
like to give you glimpses of her from time to time, for she loved 
you because I loved you, years ago. And she always agreed 
with me that I should not propose to you until the nght time 
came I do hope we shall be able to go and see her for an hour 
or two on our way back from the North. It will please her so 
much. 

Oxford. Aug. 6, 1896. 

I sent you last night a few of the newspaper cuttings which 
will amuse you. I have a great number of them, and although 
they contain many inaccuracies — ^newspapers always do — I 
kept them all carefully for you in the hope that I might some 
time live to see the day when you would and could love me. 
From them you will at least get a ghmpse of the organization 
required before your Dictionary could become a reality. It 
used to be such a pleasure to address large audiences on the 
subject, because it was all done for your welfare. . . 

I will show you my portrait one of these days when I was a 



ENGAGEMENT 


275 

young man of 12. It is the only time I was ever taken by myself 
until last month! • It was taken to celebrate a little event m my 
Mother’s life and mine, and it is accordingly precious to me ... 

Among people, who have been well (!) brought up, there is 
a great tendency to mistake ignorance for stupidity and dulness 
of intellect I toow lots of people who are learned, but at the 
same time positively stupid and utterly mcapable of giving 
birth to a single new idea. The maximum they can do is to 
assimilate other people’s ideas, for they have none of their own. 
It means a good deal to me, Lizzie dear, that you and I hold 
such views. But your letter of this mormng opens up such a 
lot of themes for us to talk about, I have not the time to write 
about them, they would occupy a big book which nobody, but 
you, would understand properly . . 

I have read very very httle of Wordsworth’s poetry, but I 
have read his hfe in extenso and I think you would enjoy read- 
ing it too when we are quietly settled down in our home. That 
will be mce to r^d thmgs together! I will promise to be a 
diligent and obedient pupil. . . . 

West Ktrby. Aug 6, 1896. 

... I did so enjoy reading all you say about your Mother. 
I am always so pleased when you will talk to me about her, for 
I greatly reverence your deep love for your Mother, and I want 
to hear all about her. I have often thought that you and she are 
another example of what is always said, that ‘great men have 
great mothers’. And I have beheved that you owe the founda- 
tion of many, or most, of the essentials of your character to her. 
you have built up a great deal on that foimdation, a’great deal 
that she has not got, but after all the foundation is the chief 
thing, when you think things back to their sources. I have not 
had time to love youf Mother yet as I shall do, but I do rever- 
ence and respect her, and if she will think me worthy of her 
best beloved son, and will learn to love me a bit for his sake, 
I shall be more than satisfied. I am glad she knew about me. 
I did wonder, even then, whether she had any special reason 
for taking so much notice of me. You shall write a history of 



ROMANCE 


276 

those twenty years if I can do anything to see that you have 
time to write it. It might be of lasting value. If we do nothing 
else on our honeymoon, we must go and see your Mother. I 
want to see her for my ovra sake, as well as for yours. 

I am so sorry about Miss . You see what a consoling 

friend you are, that even people who have only seen you once 
run and confide in you! . . 

An old schoolfellow of mine has been spending the day here, 
so we talked a great deal about you She asked me if I ever 
‘wished I was out of it’. She said she felt that fearfully strongly 
before she was married. I say I believe it is merely a physical 
state of the nerves. I have heard of it more than once before. It 
means nothing. My friend is extremely happy with her hus- 
band, and always has been, and she has been married a long 
time now. I am thankful my nerves have never played me 
that tnck. 

We are very busy now hemming dinner-napkins and such- 
like. I think you will not be able to eat yourjneals for admira- 
tion of the table-linen Mamma is bestowing on us! 

Mrs. Jane [the old nurse] is getting quite keen on her raiment 
for the weddmg. She is very anxious to look smart, and yet 
becomingly so for her years. 

My fnend today was talking jokmgly at table about you 
and me, and asked ‘if I had you well under my thumb’, and I 
did not feel equal to keeping up‘chafF on the subject, and at the 
first pause, asked her a question about her own doings at home. 
Whereupon she laughed and said I was ‘very anxious to change 
the convejfsation’. But it is difficult to talk about such things 
even in '‘chaff’. I might give such a very wrong impression. . , . 
My fnend today said I was quite ‘bhnd’! . . . 

When I left school I began to keep a diary on a small, and 
v&ry dull scale, but m 1887, when I went to Oxford, I began a 
bigger one, and I went on with it till the day I was told I was 
developmg ‘writer’s cramp’. Now, I was wondering the other 
day if you would be interested in that said book, or those books 
rather? I assure you they are mighty duU. I never, even in my 



ENGAGEMENT 


277 

diary, turned my heart and soul inside out — ^“Went out for a 
walk with A. B. Read Burke with C. D. Wrote essay. Went to 
bed.’ That is the style. Or, when at Tedstone — ^“Did the 
flowers. Slips. Tennis. Wrote to E. F. and G.’ Then I put 
down the letters I received, and when important, a remark on 
the contents — e g ‘Letter from Dr Wnght offering me post 
at Oxford!’ But I believe I did not put down all the letters you 
wrote, for fear of it lookmg remarkable! At least, I have a 
notion that I had some such plan. I believe really I had better 
bum the whole set of volumes, only I thought I would consult 
you first . . 

I was very miserable at times when I first went up to the 
Hall. For one thing, it hurt my pride to suddenly go from the 
position of ‘eldest daughter’ to that of a ‘new jumor’ under the 
stiff and proud ‘seniors’ then reignmg. I would not form a 
clique with the newcomers, and I could not join the elders, so 
I was alone. Whilst I was at work I was happy, but at other 
times I felt fearfqlly lonesome, and used to think how no one 
in the house would mind a bit if I never woke up in the 
morning' . . . 

Oxford August 7, 1896. 

. The former tenants must have been an3^hmg but 
particular about the question of health. The paper in the 
bedrooms was 4 thick and on the staircase 6 which would seem 
to indicate that the ongmal paper has never been removed 
before. That’s what I call horrid . , , 

Don’t think me cruel, Lizzie dear, but I have been keeping 
the landlord m great suspense qmte intenUonaUy with regard to 
the Sanitary Inspector’s report. The inspector, as I told you, 
certifies that the drains and sanitary arrangements are in good 
order, but sugge^ted'at the same time some thmgs which could 
be improved upon, so I thought it well to prepare the land- 
lord’s slow mmd for what I wanted, instead of giving him the 
report and telling him straight off : Look here! here ’s the report 
wWch contains some suggestions for improvement. You’ll 
have to do them, you know, so there ’s the end of it. It was best 



ROMANCE 


278 

to prepare his imnd gradually, so when I gave him the report 
this morning I had already got him to promise to do what I 
wanted before he saw the report He seemed greatly reheved 
and pleased that there was nothing else wanted That ’s the 
way to manage a man of his type Ask for a little bit at a time 
and keep on asking till you get what you want. . 

Nothing whatever depresses or worries me when it does not 
concern you. I have always taken speaal care to nip in the 
bud anything that might grow to worry me. As you know, I 
am an earnest man, and look at everything from the bnght 
side, and I can often be of use to you in these respects even 
when you are worried about things 

You do raise such interesting themes in your letters, we will 
discuss them fully some time. It would require quite a big 
article to explain fully the cause of the feehngs of your old 
school-fellow before she was marned It is not ‘a physical state 
of the nerves’ it is something quite different. It is a psycho- 
logical and not a physiological question Matter — ^and the 
nerves are matter — does not enter into the question at all. I 
will explain the whole thing to you when we are out for a walk 
at W.K. Psychology just happens to be one of the subjects to 
which I devoted much attention when I was a student, especially 
under Wundt, the greatest living authority on the subject. . . . 

To come back to your schoolfellow again. A man cannot be 
‘under the thumb’ of his wife, and the same time a wife under 
the thumb of her husband ; that state is impossible. But a man 
may be under the thumb of his wife, or vice versa and at the 
same time they may have unbounded love for each other, but, 
their respect for each other is like the Inshman’s reciprocity: 
It ’s all on one side. There is a science of mind just as there is a 
science of thought or of language. And Mthqugh the science 
of mind — owing to the enormous difficulties mvolved — ^is still 
in an elementary stage, we can do much already in the analysis 
of a person’s mind by means of mere casual remarks. It is not 
necessary always to hear much to put one in a position to give 
a true judgement even on important matters. ... I am afraid 



ENGAGEMENT , 379 

I am becoming too scholastic so I will wind up this subject by 
saymg how delighted I shall be to see your fnend some day . . 
I must finish this letter, as an enormous amount of work must 
still be got through today yet. 

West Kirby. Aug. 7, 1896. 

Thank you for the packet of paper-cuttings. I liked readmg 
them very much. I only wish I could have heard you giving 
the addresses. It is a marvel to me that you are not a masR of 
pnde, after achieving such a work! I should be, were I you, 
but you have no conceit about you, you only know your powers 
And that is a very nght and proper feehng. 

Enclosed is a letter from our future cook’s late noistress, 
which you will like to see. Mrs. Jane once went to the house, 
and she says the people are Quakers, and that they were most 
particular about havmg every detail m the house clean and 
mce. So that it means a good deal that the lady can speak so 
highly of Annie. 

I was so busy ^ the mormng hemming dinner-napkins. I 
find It such pleasant work. A long straight piece of plam sewmg 
is always to my taste, provided I have someone to talk to the 
while. The choosing of silk to line the blue cloth cape to go 
with the weddmg-dress, is a fearful busmess. You would be 
shocked at the amoimt of time I have already spent on it, and 
no decision arrived at yet* 

Don’t run away with the idea that I know anything about 
English Literature. I know nothmg. You told me so yourself 
once. On one occasion in Mrs. Wood’s drawmg-room I ex- 
jilamed to you that I never worked more than seven hours a 
day before the Schools — ^you havmg suggested 14— You then 
remarked: ‘No wonder then, that you knew nothing about 
English Literature.’* I supposed you wished to check any con- 
ceit I might have in my Class, or otherwise purposely avoided 
the obvious compliment imphed m my having done my work 
in half the time you had thought it would take me. However, 
I had my gratification afterwards when I was told that you had 
held me up in Class : ‘ See what Miss Lea did with only 5 hours 



28 o romance 

work a day!’ You took off two hours to give spice to the com- 
pliment, but there it was! And I suppose now, that you meant 
me to hear it. And I all the tune supposmg your thoughts ran 
solely on vowels, varied only by consonants! Well, I do not 
regret the change m my notions of you! (N.B. These words 
are meant to convey more than the meaning an ordinary 
dictionary would give.) 

I never said there were any ‘beautiful passages’ in Beowulf. 
I generally went to work at it solely from a ‘set book’ point of 
view. I always liked the bit where Beowulf snubbed ‘Unferth’ : 
‘If you were as brave as you say you are, I don’t think we should 
have heard quite so much of Grendel.’ That I thought was 
about the most natural and human bit in the poem. And I 
liked the way W. (somebody) — see how I forget the little I did 
once know — ^reproached the cowards who had hidden in the 
wood instead of helping Beowulf. Of course some of the old 
compounds are pretty and tellmg. I used to think that if I 
only had the time, I should like to translate Old Enghsh poems. 
I used to tell the girls to read the Psalms before sittmg down to 
translate, when they served me up long pedantic words which 
did not match a bit. 

I always rejoice that you are really clever (though you may 
say you don’t like me to say so!) and not only ‘learned’. I 
should never have loved you for your learning alone, much as 
I admire and appreciate it. One of my great causes for pnde 
over you, is that you combine learmng with that everyday 
intellect that makes man or woman of use among his or her 
fellow-creatures. You have made your learning into wisdom^ 
which is a wholly different thing. I look forward with a positive 
enthusiasm to our readings and talks in the wmter evenings, 
and in our walks. It is just all the differesace between a hvmg 
and a dead thing — ^the learning which helps you to grow, and 
the learmng which stuffs your brains, and deadens, if it does 
not kill, your soul. And apart from the more serious side, it 
pleases me in no small measure, that you are so practical, and 
business-like withal! For besides the ‘learned’ men who are 



ENGAGEMENT 


381 

‘stupid’, there are the ‘learned’ men who have big souls as well 
as the learning, but who have no thought for the petty details 
of this life. And they are very uncomfortable to live with on 
earth at any rate, though they might be faultless in a heaven 
where you never had to think of food, and raiment, and such- 
like earth-bom necessaries! . . 

Oxford Avgust 8, 1896. 

. . I am getting on with my work splendidly now. I can 
work so differently from what I could even a week ago. I feel 
so fresh and vigorous that I seem to require less sleep and rest 
than ever. Those ‘addresses’ which you would have hked to 
hear were always objective from one point only and that point 
was you\ they were not a bit subjective, hence there was no 
room for pnde to develop. On these occasions I spoke for you 
but not of you . . 

Had you accepted me unconditionally straight off, it is not at 
all certain that hy this time we should have had that perfect 
trust and faith m i?ach other which we have . . So you see my 
behef is that it all has been for the best, I look back at the past 
sometimes, but my chief thoughts are centred in our future 
welfare and happiness. We two know what the real factors are 
that make happiness in married life We have those factors, 
and we will use them rightly. We will try to mmd our own 
business, and leave others to do the same. You know what I 
mpan by that. It is not that we will not be useful to others, for 
that is an mbom quahty in both of us. And I know from much 
expenence how valuable kind and fnendly advice is to those 
jvho are in need of it. I have always been eager and zealous to 
help others . . . 

I know you have great taste m the choosing of colours . . . 
but it IS really ftymythat this one item costs you so much time 
... the Itning of your cape [for the wedding] cannot be hke 
Joseph’s coat of old, so make up your mind promptly to one 
colour and stick to it. And never forget the German proverb: 
‘Wer viel bedenkt, wird wenig leisten’. Is this suggestion of 
any use to you? . . . 



282 


ROMANCE 


... If we are to take Beowulf m ‘bits’, I know of several nice 
bits, but only of three good passages ; one of your ‘bits’ is in 
one of the three passages! So you see how near we are to each 
other in our opinions of Beowulf. Now, Lizzie dear, here is a 
point upon which we may possibly differ. I think the Pilgrim’s 
Progress is a better model than the Psalms for the purpose you 
describe. 

West Ktrby Aug. 8, 1896. 

You used to say that everybody ought to look round and 
see what they were fitted to do m the world, to make themselves 
of use to postenty. But it always seems to me that there are a 
great many people who can do nothing in particular. Or is it 
that they never ‘looked round’? I suppose you were afraid of 
my doing ‘nothing in particular’, and that is why you used to 
write so often to tell me to pursue Language. You know I 
really missed your letters, when you were ‘hurt’ over my 
dechnmg the Oxford post, and would not write to me for so 
long. But I daresay you were still worse off in the matter! . , 
I like to start ‘themes’ in my letters, because then you can 
think out nice arguments and explanations for the cleanng up 
of my hazy and crude notions. . . . 

Oxford. Aug. 9, 1896. 

Your letters are most charmmg and delight me exceedmgly. 
They plainly show that you have that peace of mmd which you 
so much stood in need of . . . there’s nothing like plenty of good 
hard work to prevent small worries being felt. It is only the 
idle who have time to let small wornes prey upon the mind 
until they become imbearable. Show me a man or woman who 
has no fixed and defimte calling in life, and I’ll show you a 
mischief-maker, a discontented person who is dissatisfied with 
himself and with everybody else too. And I always feel that it 
IS far safer to be attacked by such people than to be protected 
by them, their wouM-he protection has no solid and firm founda- 
tion, so there is nothmg to grow upon. It’s hke a soap-bubble, 
it vanishes into space when it is put to the test. . . . 

Sympathy forms a very great element in my life, and that’s 



ENGAGEMENT 283 

just how It comes about that I can get on with people generally 
when sympathy is shown to me. . 

I am glad you have made up your mind about the wedding- 

dress Of course I have not much taste in these matters, you 

have, and in coming to a decision rely chiefly upon yourself, 
and if you find that very difficult, read the fable of the old man 
and the ass. When I furmshed my present house, a lady who 
came to tea sometime after, said : you ought not to have bought 
this, you ought to have had that etc I merely rephed: I 
bought these things just to please myself and the woman I 
hoped to marry someday. That put an end to the cnticism all 
at once. You will find it a good general rule that to please one- 
self IS to please the world. When one asks for advice all round, 
there is sure to be several people disappointed and annoyed 
that the advice was not followed. A great man once said: 
‘When we feel a strong desire to thrust our advice upon others, 
It is usually because we suspect their weakness; but we ought 
rather to suspect pur own’. 

You are the best judge as to whether I am ‘always going to 
the post’. I don’t generally pay the least heed to reports either 
good, bad, or mdifferent, but I can’t help heedmg this one, 
because I am pleased to think that the report speaks of my 
showmg you much attention. I wmdd wnte by &uery post, but 
as you well know and appreciate, we have something else to do 
besides wnting letters all day to each other. 

We will discuss the question of your fnend when we meet, 
but here is the answer without the fuU and detailed solution, 
to speak mathematically She had either some misgivings about 
herself or about the man of her choice. You are not m that 
position; hence there is no fear of 'your nerves playing you that 
trick’. But you musf remember it is not a question of nerves at 
all. It is something quite different. . . 

You can’t see the analogy about your first Term at L.M.H.? 
You wnte: ‘whilst I was at work I was happy, but at other 
times I felt fearfully lonesome: etc.’ That is just how I have 
been from Feb. 1876 to Jime 1896. And although we are far 



ROMANCE 


284 

away from each other just now, neither of us is lonesome in that 
sense. I am very lonely indeed at this moment, but not in that 
sense, which makes a world of difference to both of us. Lizzie 
dear, the longer we live the more we shall see how very much 
ahke our feelings have been m the past. The greatest ambition 
of my life has always been to have some dear woman to love 
and live for and to be loved by her in return. I have that now, 
and it is most precious to me, it is more than all the world 
besides . . . 

On^ord. Aug. 9, 1896. 

I have done as much work as I ought to do today, so I will 
continue my letter of this afternoon, otherwise you may 
possibly think my letter did not contain all I wished to say. 
There is so much that I wish to say, but writing is such a slow 
and unsatisfactory process. . . . 

Lizzie dear, you don’t know how very pleased I am to see 
you remember some of the letters I used to wnte to you in past 
years. Surely they appeal to you now in rather a different light 
from what they did then. The light shineth now, and I think 
you cannot fail to see that my love for you in those far off days 
was very great and deep. I never said so, how could I ? But it 
was there all the same, as firm as any rock. And when you first 
dechned the Oxford post, I felt I might lose you for ever. That 
was a sad and anxious time for me. But still I went on toiling 
and hoping. . . . And when you did accept the post, and we 
used to meet m public here, I never ventured to treat you in 
the same manner as I treated other ladies. . . 

It is not altogether unpleasant to look back at the past, 
however trying and painful it may have been, for it often gives 
one strength for the future. It enables one with a cool head and 
a willing heart to carry out plans which would otherwise seem 
impossible. I always measure my strength by what I have been 
able to overcome in the past. And withyott to cheer and com- 
fort me I can do so very much even in little time . . 

There is a good deal of truth in what you say about friend- 
ship, but if you had had my expenence of the world, had gone 



ENGAGEMENT 285 

through what I have gone through, your views would be some- 
what modified. And seeing that your expenence can never be 
the same as mine, you would denve much benefit upon the 
whole subject by reading Lord Chesterfield’s advice to his son. 
I do not agree with all he says, but he gives some very sound 
and wholesome advice upon the whole subject of friendship. 
We all learn by experience, but sometimes by bitter experience 
which may be bought too dearly. Do not think . . that I 

despise friendship, I do not. Real pure and genuine friendship 
is most precious and is worthy of being cultivated. But such 
friendships are very rare. Ordinary friendship has a tmcture of 
jealousy m it, and when friends hear us praised by others, they 
often ascribe it to sinister and interested motives, if they can. 
I dare say you know the saymg: The Lord preserve me from 
my friends, I can manage my eneimes. This would almost 
seem as if I have no friends. The very opposite is the case. I 
have a very large number of friends whom I esteem very highly 
and whom I respect very much. But for all that I have never 
formed a close and intimate friendship with anybody. It is 
not that I cannot trust my friends ; it is because I can trust and 
rely upon myself. . . . 

The question of love has always been a most serious matter 
with me. I could never have played at love-mabng, it would 
have been most revolting to my whole nature. You were my 
ideal many many years before I saw you, and had I never seen 
you I should probably never have found my ideal. . . . 

This IS the second time of reading the marriage ceremony. 
And I do think it is high time for half a dozen sensible people 
to sit down and make an entirely revised version. . . . But if 
you have no scruples on the subject, we will say nothing about 
it to anyone, andjusiftake the thing as it is without complaint. . . 

Oxford. Aug. 10, 1896. 

... I heard from my Mother this morning, and she is very 
anxious to see me just once more before we are married. She 
sends her kmdest love to you and says: ‘I only saw Miss Lea 



286 


ROMANCE 


twice, but I am satisfied.’ Lizzie dear, that means a whole 
volume, if you understand it as I do. I know quite well why 
she is anxious to see me. She can’t write herself and she is too 
independent to convey her thoughts to me through my brother. 
I am sure that ’s what it all means. . . 

I shall like to read your letters over and over again in after 
years, although I know nearly all of them almost by heart, and 
when once I have learnt a thing my memory is such that I am 
not likely to forget it very soon. . . . 

Oxford. Aug. II, 1896. 
When out for a ride last night, I was thinking how delightful 
It will be when we ride side by side to the neighbouring villages 
to have tea there. My mind was so much preoccupied with this 
thought that I forgot all about the machine until I found my- 
self lymg at full length m the gutter with the skin knocked off 
two of the knuckles on the right hand, and rather a sharp 
twinge in my left leg. It is not serious and I daresay I shall 
walk all right again in a day or two. . 

West Kirby. Aug. ii, 1896. 
. . . / am not so wholly without vanity as you are. I Uke 
everybody to be interested in us. I should feel shorn of a 
decided pleasure if they were not so. And it pleases me 
exceedmgly to hear of you as a man of fame, and I look forward 
to your being still more famous ! Of course we will live our own 
life, ‘in our own way’, that is the chief thing. When you and I 
are alone, I do not care one bit about ‘the world’, nor can the 
world touch us there, but m its due place and time, I like the 
world, and its good opinion. . . . 

As to the Marriage Service, I have no ‘scruples’ about it. 
A service which is meant for multitudes cannot specially 
express what you and I feel our relations towards one another 
to be. I should take it as one takes many a hymn. Many 
hymns stake a chord which you love, and each individual gets 
the music his soul wants out of it. I thought this when I was 
first in MolBFat. The mimster there, Mr. Somers, is one of the 



ENGAGEMENT 287 

best clergymen I know, really a man you feel may be set up as 
the spintml guide of others. Now he had just lost a young wife, 
a very beautiful woman (for I saw her picture m his house), and 
they had been happier than most, but she had died, and left 
him with three little children. I had not till then seen such 
sorrow as came out in that man’s prayers in church — ^for of 
course his prayers were extempore. His one creed however 
was, that you must rise out of your personal sorrow to bring 
goodness and happiness to others And he did, for you felt the 
better for even seeing him. There is a hymn which begins 
‘Go bury thy sorrow, the world has its cares’, a dreadful hymn 
that reminds you of a passage in ‘The Snark’, but m the idea 
it expresses so horribly was the chord which appealed to Mr. 
Somers, and we used to have that hymn constantly, and I 
believe his thoughts earned him so infinitely beyond and above 
the words he sang, that he was wholly imaware how bad and 
weak they were. But to return, after this digression. I tell my 
people that the IVfarnage Service is too much after the opinion 
of St. Paul, and that I am never going to be ‘m subjection’ to 
you, but my Mother thinks that in the main, that is the right 
state, that the husband must and ought to be ‘the master’, 
though he leaves his wife free in little thmgs. They all seem 
to think I shall find the ‘married’ state vastly different from the 
‘engaged’ state in this point. However, I cannot argue the point, 
as I have no expenence yet. . . . 

Oxford. Aug. 12, 1896. 

... I too ‘like everybody to be interested m us’ in a way, 
J)ut what I do object to so strongly is that newspapers etc. are 
so very inaccurate m what they say about one. 

. . . The present cannot estimate a man properly, that must 
be left for the syccebding generation. That’s the time to find 

out whether a man left the world better for his having hved 

You read Lycidas beginmng somewhere about hue 75 (Fame 
is no plant that grows on mortal soil etc.). My copy is at the 
Press, or else I could give you the exact line where the passage 
begins. . . . 



288 ROMANCE 

What ‘they all seem to think’ is quite right. ‘The married 
state will be vastly different from the engaged state.’ It will be 
the real union of two hearts without a master. There is to be no 
subjection, my darling, as you already know. We two love, 
respect, and honour each other too much for that ever to form 
the least factor in our married life. . . . 

I must now close this letter, as three people are coming to 
supper at seven o’clock. Prof. Gardner, Prof. Napier, and 
Prof. Wheeler (one of the men who signed that postcard from 
Freiburg). He and his wife are much disappointed at not see- 
ing you. They are very old friends of mine. We were students 
together at Heidelberg and took our degrees nearly at the same 
time. . . . 

Oxford. Aug. 12, 1896. 

We had this evening a very pleasant time. After supper we 
were joined for coffee by three other friends and strangely 
enough the whole centre of conversation turned upon the higher 
Education of women. It always mterests me very much to hear 
this subject discussed by people of unbiassed opinions, and 
we were all very much interested to hear Prof. Wheeler’s views, 
who has had much expenence m mixed Umversity work. We 
were not all imammous in our views on this most important 
subject, but it is most interesting to hear the views of senous 
men on the subject . . . 

I received the enclosed from home this evening. You will 
make it out with a little trouble, but you will not fail to see how 
much my dear old Mother loves you. Every good child loves 
Its mother^, but my history, especially my early history, was sq 
much linked with her that I may seem to over-estimate her 
importance, but such is not the case. She is a rough, un- 
polished diamond of whose existence thi world might never 
hear, unless I can some day find the time to tell of her sterhng 
quahties. If you once heard me tell how closely we were once 
linked together to provide some sort of education for my two 
younger brothers you could not wonder that I am greatly 
attached to her. It would be a great satisfaction to me if on our 



ENGAGEMENT 


289 

honeymoon we could go to some such place as IlMey or Harro- 
gate for the latter part of our hohday at any rate. We cannot 
stay with my Mother, it is a small cottage-house which I 
furmshed for her so far back as 1869, the year before I began 
to learn to read. Ilkley, as you will see from the enclosed cut- 
tmg, IS not a bad centre for visiting the most beautiful parts of 
my county, but I will leave everything for you to settle. . . . 

Oxford. Aug 13, 1896. 

. . Don’t you be a bit ‘sorry about my fall’. ‘It’s an ill 
wind that blows nobody any good.’ It taught me a good practi- 
cal lesson that beginners must think entirely about the machine 
imtil they become fairly proficient. I don’t think it is ‘a danger- 
ous form of exercise’. A person may be so absorbed in thought 
as to come — whilst walking — ^into unpleasant contact with a 
lamp-post or anything else, and yet no one would say walking 
is a dangerous exercise. ... I ^0 hope you will get the said 
bicycle lessons when you come up to Oxford. I feel quite sure 
you will never fall". I made quite a study of the art of mounting 
which is the chief thing, and I will tell you all about it when 
we go for our walk to-morrow afternoon. I am greatly in need 

of exercise and fresh air I do hope you will not mind my 

letter bemg short today. There are noany things to be done 
before I can leave here in the morning. 

West Kirby. Aug. 13, 1896. 

I am glad you can come by the earher tram. I will meet you 
at Kirby Park at 3.57 tomorrow. . . . You shaU have a mce 
fioliday here, to make up for your hard work. I shall not write 
much, as we shall meet so soon, and I have a mania for sewing 
table-cloths just now*. . . . 

West Kirby. Aug. 18, 1896. 

K. said if I wrote to you tomght I should have to conjugate 
a Latin verb in full, to cover the paper withal. 

I hope you finally foimd the right stations in Liverpool, and 
had a good journey home K. seems to think I am enwrapt 

pp 



ROMANCE 


290 

m delusions as to what a husband is like, but though I was not 
going to argue on the subject, I remained rooted to my own 
standpoint. She holds that if you are engaged to a man, you 
may tell him you do not like something he is in the habit of 
doing, and he will leave it oif, but when he is married, he will 
not only not listen to anything further of the sort, but he will 
recur to the old habit he had temporanly discontinued. Well, 
all I can say is, that I am sorry if that is her experience She 
says we are a proud family, who all think too much of ourselves. 
I beheve she is right, and I could not contradict her when she 
said ‘till the other day I was just the same as all the rest’. She 
added : ‘who would have thought to see you sitting at any man’s 
feet?’ I don’t feel like sitting at yours, in the common accepta- 
tion of the term, because that argues your looking down on me, 
but otherwise I do. You are very much better than I deserve, 
but you will have to take me as I am, and you will ‘make the 
best of me’ in more ways than one. . . 

I always think your mind is just stored vfith goodness, and 
beauty, and truth. I may feel inclined to argue with you now 
and then, but I never feel I shall come upon anything bad, or 
worthless, or injurious, and that is everything. If I married 
you tomorrow I should not be afraid I should have cause to 
change my opinion ... no woman ever had better cause to be 
thankful and happy. 

Aug. 18, 1896. 6 Wellington St. WindMll. Shipley. 

The train was quite punctual into Leeds, so I arrived here 
all right just before 2 o’clock. ... 

My good old Mother enquired all about how you were etc. 
as soon as I got into the house. I gave her your message which 
pleased her very much. She was immefxsely pleased when I 
said she would see you m October, although I had already told 
her m one of my letters, she was extra pleased to hear it from 
my own lips. It always does me a world of good to see the 
homely folks here. I always feel on such occasions that there 
is far more real happiness and contentment of mmd in these 



ENGAGEMENT 


291 

lowly and hiimble cots than in most ‘big’ mansions. You see, 
my darhng, when I come back into my early surroundmgs it 
brings so vividly to mind all the associations of the little youth 
I ever had. 

There are several people in the house just now, and I am 
writing this in the parlour, but can hear every word they say 
My Mother and I will have a good long talk tonight. . . . 

Windhll. Ai^. 19, 1896. 

My Mother and I had such a long talk together last mght. 
From her last letter but one I could see she had special reasons 
of her own why she was very anxious to see me once more before 
our wedding I shall ever remember that talk with a very grate- 
ful heart, for it had never occurt^d to me that a mother could 
give such soimd practical advice to a son. And it impressed me 
all the more as coming from a woman of such very limited book 
knowledge. After one has undergone a kind of experience it 
often results in tlje saying : — I am a sadder but wiser man, but 
I can say with all my heart • I am a happier and wiser man for 
my long talk with her. Lizzie darling, advice from a woman 
like my Mother is very valuable indeed for the simple reason 
that It firsthand, and has been arrived at without the external 
influences of books and education. It is very clear that she has 
been thinking of you ever since you met her in Oxford. She 
had known your name long, but it was only then that she had an 
opportunity of seeing you When I have come home on former 
occasions our conversation has generally been about family 
matters, and what has transpired in the village since I was last 
here. But this time it is all changed, all her talk is about Miss 
Lea. It is highly probable that you may only see her once in 
this life, for sh^ ha5 changed much since I last saw her, not 
at all m mmd, but in body. You will never fully realize how 
very great her love for you is. And she loves you not merely 
because of her motherly love for me, but also because you are 
worthy of bemg loved ‘by the best man in the world’, whoever 
he may be. I will put into plain English what she said in the 



392 ROMANCE 

dialect last night : When I saw her, I was sure that if you had 
travelled all over the world in search of a wife, you would not 
have found such a good woman as Miss Lea. That means a 
good deal, my darling, considermg that she. only saw you 
tidce. As you know, I can trust my Mother implicitly, but she 
confessed last night how very difficult it was when she saw you 
alone not to speak to you about my great love for you. As I 
have often told you, my Mother and I do not stand to each 
other in the ordinary relation of mother and son. 

I cannot help sharing your feelings at all times and in all 
states. Without that my great love for you would be incom- 
plete. . . When we are together you somehow have the power 
of commumcatmg to me the exact state of your feehngs even 
when we walk side by side without our exchanging a single word 
with each other. How to explain it I know not, but that certainly 
is the case The same thing has happened so often to you in 
regard to me that the only suggestion I can make is that it is 
the result of a perfect umon of two heads and two hearts . . 

West Kirby. Aug. 19, 1896. 

... I am so glad you are happy at home. I am sure sim- 
phcity and happiness go hand m hand, and it is when people 
of leisure sit down and dissect their minds, and analyse their 
feelings, and create difficulties and complications, that the 
unnecessary unhappmess comes in — ^at least it seems so 

I have this morning been collecting the harmless but dull 
books of my early youth. They are not at all interesting in 
themselves; and only a few are so by association ^ 

I wish you were here to go out to the island this afternoon. 
It IS a lovely walk on a warm sunny day, all across that sand. 
You are quite nght about the desirability o'? airland exercise for 
me. It is wonderful what a difference it does make to one’s 
mind. I, for instance, always feel much more inclined to say 
my prayers on the top of a moimtain, than m a hot, close church. 
We went up a lovely mountain — or perhaps I should only call 
it a hill, because it was qmte green and grassy all the way up, 



ENGAGEMENT 293 

and took us only 2| hours to climb — at Lugano, I remember, 
where you looked all round on hills, and mountains, and down 
on the Lake below, and it filled you with a sense of peace and 
goodness, which I am sure was something more than the mere 
animal exhilaration produced by the mountain air, and the use 
of muscles in walking up 

I must go and prepare for our expedition M wants me to 
tie up some flowers for the coastguard’s wife, who took such 
a kind mterest in our engagement. 

Wrndhill. Aug 20, 1896. 

I do wish you could have joined me in my long walk across 
the moors yesterday afternoon The weather was simply per- 
fect, and the views of the surrounding hills were really splendid. 
I felt very lonely without you, but still the walk gave me that 
calm state of mind which always does me much good. I had 
tea at Ilkley, and then walked on to Bolton Woods as far as 
Barden Tower, which is probably the prettiest walk in the 
whole district. I then walked along the nver-side back to 
Bolton, and took the train home In the evemng I went to the 
Liberal Club and ‘held forth’ on the relations of master and man. 
Unfortunately for all concerned, there is a great strike of 
mechanics m this district just now, which is causing a great 
stagnation in trade. Although I am not in a mood to mix m the 
matter with my old enthusiasm, I do feel it my duty to accept 
the invitation of the two deputations which came to see me this 
mommg. I am fairly in full possession of the facts of both 
sides, and my impression is that the men are decidedly in the 
wrong. The meeting is to be at the Hall of Freedom this 
evening at 7.30. I like to be of what use I can to these good 
people, but I don’t see how I can be of much help on the present 
occasion. , • 

I shall stay with my Mother until Saturday morning, so that 
your Friday’s letter will reach me before I leave for Oxford. . . . 
If I were to be a single day without a letter from my dearly 
beloved Lizzie, I should be most miserable. They always give 
me such a faithful and true picture of your state of mind at the 



ROMANCE 


294 

time that I feel you near although we are far apart from each 
other. It IS neither ‘selfish nor unkind’ to tell me everythmg. 
We act towards each other in exactly the manner which cheers 
and comforts me beyond measure. How could we refrain from 
expressing just what we feel? If we did otherwise there would 
be something wrong somehow or other, I am sure the older 
we get, the more evident it will become that we two shall have 
no two opinions about anything under the sun. . , . 

I shall not fail to get ‘some mce books’ to read to you on our 
honejunoon I have looked up the trains etc. We should leave 
Liverpool at 4 30 and arrive at Windermere at 6.55 and at the 
Hotel at Bowness at 7.5. The Old England is on the lake side 
and IS one of the largest and best hotels in the Lake District. 
It was recommended to me very strongly last night by our 
late M.P ... 

It is so grand to think that I shall have you to live and care 
for all our hves That is what I have yearned for during all 
these years. 

West Kirhy. Aug 21, 1896. 

You will like a little note to greet you when you arrive, 
especially when the object of it is to tell you that my Mother 
and I think that October 6 , Tuesday is the best day for the 
wedding. . . . 

West Kirby. Aug. 21, 1896, 

. . . Thank you for sending me the photograph of your 
Mother I shall like to have it very much, I think we ought to 
have no difficulty in stopping a night at Ilkley on our way back. 
I may be v/rong, but if I were your Mother, I am quite sure 
I would rather receive my daughter-in-law in my own house. 
And you always say Yorkshire people think more of their hearth 
and home than Southerners. Besides, I, for my part, should 
feel it much more fitting that I should go and see her, than she 
come to me. Then too, I want to see your old home. So my 
mind is quite made up on this matter. I shall manage the 
railway journeys quite nicely, you will see. You shall take all 
the care of me you like, and I shall enjoy it, but you shan’t pack 



ENGAGEMENT 395 

me in cotton-wool, and label me ‘fragile’, ‘with care’, ‘this side 
up’, ‘perishable’, and all the rest! You know you have a pecu- 
liar way of your own, of looking after me, and taking care of 
me, and yet you don’t make me feel a poor feeble thing who 
can’t stand on its own feet, and I appreciate it immensely. 
Moreover you will always have that characteristic art. . . . 

I am so glad you think I write good letters — ^but I own I 
think you must be earned away by your own feelmgs above the 
level of my wording, and then you fancy the wording better 
than It IS. You see you always do understand so clearly what 
I mean, that when my meaning is good, you see that more 
plainly than words can express it. I expect when we get a bit 
older we shall Jiave to make a point of talking to each other, lest 
we forget our mother tongue, by reason of the fact that we 
understand each other so well without words! . 

How long ago was your Mother’s photograph taken? My 
people seem astonished that she looks so upright and ‘well- 
preserved’ for her age. She certainly does look to have a very 
strong character of her own, and her standard for other people 
must be very high. I only hope when she comes to know me 
better, she will not be disappointed m me But you manage 
not to be, so I don’t think she will be. . . . 

Windhtll. Aug. 21, 1896. 

. . . We had a grand meeting last night, and I enjoyed it 
much more than I expected I should. The men are un- 
doubtedly in the wrong this time, and they do not seem to fully 
comprehend the keen competition which exists between Eng- 
land and foreign coimtries. Thmgs have changed very much 
of late years, and it is of the very greatest importance that our 
workmg men shouM be enhghtened upon the subject. The 
chief part of my address dwelt upon this topic, and I think it 
made some impression. When I went to the meeting I felt as 
if all the old enthusiasm had left me, but such was not the case 
when i had got fairly started. Lizzie dear, you cannot feel as 
I do on these questions, you have grown up in a different 



ROMANCE 


296 

atmosphere, so to say. I have been a working man myself, I 
know their troubles, I know their joys, and I cannot forsake 
them when they think I can be of help to them. It is not an 
easy task, for the people here rely upon me far too much. They 
imagme that I know everythmg about the present state of trade, 
whereas I practically know nothing. Years ago I would have 
gone into the question with perfect certainty, but I am ‘out of 
it’ now, and that is just what the masters and men do not realize 
to the full extent. In this district my influence is naturally 
rather great whatever question might arise, but I do feel I shall 
be a fraud, and act agamst my own conscience, if I allow myself 
to be dragged further into the dispute. I said last night all that 
I had to say, and it must stop there. Once upon a time a 
struggle like this would have given me infinite pleasure, but of 
late years I have not followed social problems, and accordingly 
I am quite out of date . . 

You know how little interest I take in politics, and when I 
opened the Liberal Club last year^ I felt like the wrong man in 
the wrong place. I am not supposed to know, but the members 
are gomg to give me a very handsome wedding present. The 
President says they think this a most befittmg occasion to show 
their esteem for me. . . . 

My dear Lizzie never say again that you ‘seem so imgrateful’. 
Where we two are concerned, there is no room for the feelings 
of gratitude or ingratitude. , . It is just your love which has 
given me new life and new interests in that life. I never had 
narrow views of life, and I cannot express how very muchyo« 
have widened them in this short time . . you have given me 
the one thing needful, and I shall cherish it more and more every 
day of my life. . . . 

West Khrby. Aug. 22, 1896. 

... I had a long talk with K. last night about love and mar- 
riage, and the like, and she seemed to understand my point of 
view. She says I ‘ideahse’ you, and you ‘ideahse’ me, that I 
must have little faults and pettmesses which I have never let 

^ July 13, 1895, The members gave him a handsome study clock 



ENGAGEMENT 297 

you see, and which will come out when we live together daily. 
But I say this is all quite natural, only, if both have high ideals, 
and each expects goodness, and beauty, and truth in the other. 
It is the surest way of attainmg such measure thereof as is 
possible in mortal man. I felt from the very first, that with you 
my faults would sink into the background, and my better 
nature be drawn out . . however, she seemed to believe that 
you and I had thought thmgs out, and would prove to be 
‘kindred souls’ over and above our love for each other, which of 
course she recognised as a very great thing. . . . 

You will be coming home to Oxford tonight, and will find 
my letter about October 6. And then won’t he feel happy! . . . 

WindhU. Aug. 22, 1896. 

J intended to write to you last night, but my Mother and 
I sat up talking until nearly 2 o’clock. It was the last long talk 
we shall perhaps ever have. . I am very glad you like my 
Mother’s photograph, she was just 70 when it was taken. Yes, 
she has ‘a very strong character’, and her own pecuhar way of 
looking at things. And I am sure you will like to hear her talk, 
for she can talk when she likes. She has just told me again how 
sorry she is that she cannot write. 

I am lookmg forward to seeing my beloved on Tuesday, so 
be sure to come by the 11.30 tram from Kirby Park 

I wish I had time for a proper letter this mommg, but I 
must leave here in less than an hour, and I want to see two or 
three old people, who are ill, before I start. 

Osiford. Aug. 22, 1896. 

I have only just time to say that I arrived here all right, after 
a rather hot journey. I am writing this m Mr. Mayhew’s 
study, as Sarah^has not yet got back, and I cannot get into the 
house. ... I told my Mother what you said about coming to 
Ilkley, and it pleased her very much. She said she should like 
to see !w all to ourselves first, she does not like the idea of my 
sister-in-law or brothers bemg present at our first meeting, for 



ROMANCE 


298 

my Mother clearly wants to have you practically all to herself 
for once. Don’t be alarmed, Lizzie dear, at what I said about 
my Mother’s health. I asked her several times if she felt herself 
faihng, and she maintains that such is not the case She only 
worries because she can’t do as much work as formerly. But 
I can see she is breaking up gradually, and no wonder, after an 
active life like hers has been. . . 

Oxford Aug 23, 1896. 

. . . Yes, let It be October 6, that will do splendidly, it will give 
us one day more for our honeymoon Now that I know the 
exact date, I can make all the necessary arrangements with 
which I think you will be quite satisfied I will send you the 
full programme in about a fortnight ; as soon ^s I have heard 
from Mr. Hills of Ambleside. I shall ask him to take nice rooms 
for us there Between now and Oct. 6 , 1 must get through a 
very great deal of work in order that there can be no doubt 
whatever about the prompt appearance of Part II The Assist- 
ants come back on Tuesday morning By working hard, I can 
have 96 pages of Part II in type before Oct. 6 And then if the 
weather is good, and we feel mclined, we shall not be obliged 
to be here just when full Term begins 

I don’t know whether there was a reporter at the meeting at 
the ‘Hall of Freedom’ the other mght, if a report does appear 
in the papers it will be sure to be sent to me, and I will send it 
on. I used to take an enormous interest m such matters, but 
of late years I have not had time to follow the subject, and 
therefore I cannot speak on it like I could formerly When I 
used to work at the mill, eight of us once had our photographs 
taken. It must have been in 1874, when I was full grown and 
without a heard. I had forgotten all about it, but one of the 
men gave me his copy on Friday evening,'»and I shall treasure 
it, for It is rather a good picture of what I looked like at 
19. . . . 

I bought a book at the station yesterday to read in the train. 
I enclose herewith a cutting* from it which I am sure will 

* The cutting enclosed in the above letter is from a book on 'Depression*, and 



ENGAGEMENT 299 

interest you, for it expresses exactly what zve two think on the 
subject. It is such a comfort to feel that we have the same feel- 
ings about almost all things. 

West Kirby. Aug. 22, iSg 6 . 

. . . You would have been quite shocked at me in church this 
morning, because I laughed in the sermon I know it was a bad 
thing to do, one ought to have been sad, not mirthful. The 
poor little curate was holding forth on ‘the preacher’, as one 
who had a mighty influence on his audience by his inspiring 
eloquence, which ‘held them for an hour’. And he seemed to 
think that was what he did, whereas he has really no eloquence 
at all, and I should doubt if he could ‘hold’ anybody for five 
minutes. Joe dear, I always find much satisfaction in the fact 
that you know exactly what you can do, and what you cannot 
do* I have often thought when listening to the feeble sermons 
one so often hears, how dreadful it must be for the preacher’s 
wife to be there hearing him givmg forth such poor stuff, such 
as no one would ^tand at a dinner-table, and to think how the 
audience, or some of them, must see that, though the preacher 
thinks It worthy of the occasion But I always hope that the 
poor lady is blissfully ignorant I could never have married a 
clergyman, for sermons always rouse my critical spirit more 
than almost anything else They generally either contam little 
but extracts from Biblical commentaries, or skim about on the 
surface of thmgs and never reach anything profitable. I re- 
member the same little curate preaclung on ‘What is truth?’ 
Of course everybody, I suppose, who tries to hve at all, ought 
tp spend their lives in seeking the answer to that question, and 
it made one impatient to hear a very young and imformed man, 
with but few brains at best, pretending to answer the question 
in ten minutes, pf dburse one could not feel satisfied, one only 
wished he would not attempt the impossible. But I shall have 

IS as follows ‘Remarks — ^The case illustrates the sovereign value of work. No 
matter what a patient’s sensations, however much he or she may declare their 
incapacity for thought, for prolonged exertion, or for any effort of memory if 
there is one superlative mental tonic it is work, especially remunerative work/ 
Depression^ by Dr. Bridger, 1895, p 85. 



300 ROMANCE 

to cultivate a tolerance of curates, and it is very bad for one to 
think one knows better than they do. . . . 

I hope you found my last letter mtelligible. I had fastened 
it up, and then I re-opened it, havmg come to the conclusion, 
whilst putting on my hat to go out to the post, that it was not 
so, but I have the greatest confidence in your penetrating 
understanding . . . 

Oxford. Aug. 24, 1896 
... I have no bachelor habits to hide from you, you have 
always seen me just as I am without the least varnish. I have 
never allowed my mmd to be sufficiently idle to contract any 
habits of which I need be ashamed. The one habit which 
I must modify is that of working late at night, sometimes all 
night, but Lizzie dear, that habit was necessary to get through 
what I meant to do. It would be most wicked to conceal any- 
thing if there were anything to conceal. I say all this not out of 
self-gratification, which too would be wrong. . . 

I saw a book called ‘Depression’ at the Railway bookstall on 
Saturday and bought it to read in the tram The descriptions 
given there of the various kinds of depression and their causes 
and effects are most terrible. I used to think that I got depressed 
sometimes, but if the descriptions given m that book are right, 

I have never been a bit depressed all my life. The feeling must ' 
be something awful. I have never had such feelings. What I 
used to thmk was depression in me was only a feeling of being 
downcast through over-work. . 

Oxford Aug. 28, 1896. 

. . . During the next fortnight the time will pass very slowly 
when I am not head over ears in work. It is really a blessing 
that I shall have much to do between now and then, because 
when I am away from the ‘Workshop’ I caif thrgk about nothing 
else but you. Do not think it foolish of me to be like that, it is 
only right that it should be so. You have had the lion’s share of 
my thoughts for many a long year, and you always will have in 
the future. ... It always seems to me so strange that people are 
constantly telling you that I may listen to all your wishes in my 



ENGAGEMENT 


301 

present state, but that when we are married, I shall decline to 
listen to them. Nothing could be further from the truth. I can 
always fall in with your wishes mechamcally for the simple 
reason that I know you neither have, nor ever will have, any 
foolish or selfish wishes Nor do I believe it will always be 
necessary for you to express your wishes in words. When we 
are together I have a kind of natural instinct for what you wish 
and desire, and surely you must have noticed that in many 
a small thing. ... I do always feel that if ever there were two 
people truly fitted to be man and wife, we are the two. At the 
very start we were not situated as most people are: we had 
much m common that could be taken for granted. And for the 
rest we only reqmred genuine mutual love and unbounded 
trust in each other to make everything concerning us as perfect 
as^nythmg can be perfect in this world. I never felt more than 
I did today how very happy we shall be in our married life, for 
we have nothing that can possibly mar our state of happiness 
now or in the future. . . . 

Oxford. Aug. 29, 1896. 

I thought it would be quite impossible to receive a letter 
from you this mor nin g, and I was expecting to be most miser- 
able to-day at not having any tidings of how you got home. 
I am always so anxious about you until I hear that you have 
amved all nght. But to my great dehght and joy I did receive 
a post-card and a letter this mommg. ... I have been trying 
to reason it out why I should miss you this time more than on 
former occasions, and I cannot explam it unless it be that you 
have become to me so very much a part of myself that when you 
are not there I am no longer my own self. . . . 

I know now that life to me will not be a mere existence, it 
will be a real and ifteful life, a life which will be worth livmg, 
for with the love you have given me, I can do much which 
otherwise could never have been done. Great and deep as is 
my love for you, and I do not see how a man could love and 
reverence- -that is the exact word— a woman more than I do 
you Lizzie, yet I do feel with all my heart and soul that a noble 



302 ROMANCE 

minded woman like you, gives with her love a great deal more 
than she can ever receive from any mortal man. However I will 
always do whatever I can to make myself worthy of that love 
in word and deed. Of that I think you are qmte^ure, and have 
been for some time past. . . 

I had formed a high ideal of the kind of woman I could love 
and live for, and when I first saw you m class, I felt for the 
moment that I had entirely forgotten all the Old English I ever 
knew. You probably can’t remember it now, but our first 
lessons were very poor indeed, think about it, and you will see 
that I learnt to master myself m a way ; for it was only in a way 
I always found it so difficult to ask you questions, and therefore 
asked the other students first. In your third letter last Jime, 
you said that it was a great revelation to you, but great 
revelation came to me the first time I ever saw you Until then 
I had had my high ideals, but I had never known what love was. 
I had never seen anyone I could love imtil I saw you ... it is 
quite certain that if you could not have loved jjxe, I could never 
have loved another woman whoever she might have been. . . . 

In my Mother’s letter yesterday she does not mention Miss 
Lea. She talks about she. Lizzie darling, that is the highest 
degree of honour and respect that can be attained in our district 
from dialect speaking people. It always presupposes that every- 
body addressed knows who she is. A concrete example •mil 
make plain what it means. When anybody talks to my Mother 
about me, or •vice versa, my name would never be mentioned. 
It is always he. . . 

• West Kirby. Aug. 29, 1896^ 

I was not particularly tired when I arrived, indeed I think 
I am wonderfully fresh. After Chirk I found myself alone with 
a solitary man, and he had such restless feabil;.s that at last I 
began to doubt his sanity, and thought it pleasanter to get into 
another carriage at Ruabon. He did nothing really queer, only 
he seemed imable to do anything for more than five consecutive 
minutes. He had masses of letters, and note-books, and bills 
in his pockets out of which he read extracts in turn. That and 



ENGAGEMENT 303 

a really magmficent sunset was all the entertainment I had by 
the way, but the sunset was worth a great deal, it seemed to fit 
in so well to the end of my time with you I felt so nalm and 
happy myself, and the whole sky seemed to reflect it before my 
eyes You are quite right the more we see of each other, 
the more it is brought before our consciousness that we were 
made to fit into each other in every way. I think we both knew - 
it before in the abstract, but it appears in more or less concrete 
form, bit by bit, when we are together. . . . 

You were quite right about bridegroom’s gloves, and much 

more ‘up to date’ than I. Mrs. told me this morning that 

‘lavender gloves’ are the newest ‘London’ fashion for weddings, 
but they are so^‘smart’ and ‘London’ that for a simple wedding 
light tan are preferable, not kid, but one of those thicker 
leathers. Lavender had gone out, and I was not ‘m the fashion’ 
enough to know it had returned I shall have to consult you on 
the fashions, I perceive* 

I am afraid a black tie will look a bit like a moummg occasion. 
You must consicTer the point . . 

Of course I don’t think it ‘foohsh’ of you to be thinkmg of 
me. I like to hear you say It. We don’t lose our heads by always 
thinking of each other, on the contrary. 

If all the wives m England hked to sign a memorial to say 
th&t husbands always gave up listenmg to their wives after 
marriage, I should only say that you were then not made after 
the universal pattern. . . . 

Nothing shakes my absolute trust m you. . . . You don’t 
know how your presence gives me peace and strength. I felt 
It so much on Wednesday evening, when we went a walk 
together in the Parks. I seemed ‘weary’, as you would say, 
after giving my mind all day to carpenters, and dresses, and 
‘company talk’,*and being with you so refreshed me. I never 
felt so much before the difference between the real and the 
eicterior life. I cannot put in words precisely what I mean, but 
I thinkTone. feels that one’s better nature craves for truth and 
simplicity, and that it will be starved unless one spends a goodly 



ROMANCE 


304 

proportion of one’s days in simplicity, and truth-seeking. I 
don’t mean at all to say that I dislike society, for I like it 
greatly, nor do I fail to see the need for ‘the practical side of 
hfe’, only I want to get hold of the relative proportions of 
things, and not lay too much stress on what does not matter, 
to the neglect of the things which do matter. And it is such 
' a joy to me to know that you and I feel so alike on this 
pomt, indeed the feeling has mainly grown up in me smce I 
knew you loved me, and smce I loved you. 

Oxford. Aug 30, 1896. 

I went round to the house yesterday and find that the work- 
men will not be out of it before Wednesday at the earhest. 

If all goes well, I shall remove from here in about ten days, and 
considering that Sarah knows where everythmg is and exactly 
what I have, I think I shall ask her to stay on until I have 
removed, otherwise there may just be a chance of some little 
things beingtaken zwayhy mistake I shall take the inventory 

of tenant’s fittings of the new house to a valuer tomorrow, as it 
is quite clear that the landlord’s valuer has put too high a price 
upon them. Fancy paying ^^3 for those rotten blinds! It always 
happens that people try to impose upon a man who is about to 
be married, they think he has lost his head, and won’t mmd " 
pa3dng more for a thing than it is worth. My gardener was h§re 
yesterday, and strongly advised me to remove some of the rose 
trees to the other house. ... I always knew that you liked 
flowers and that ’s just the very reason why I have always had 
my gardenrkept so mcely stocked with flowers and plants. It 
was such a consolation to have thmgs about me that you liked. 
You might never have loved me, but you could never have 
prevented me from loving things which I«knew were pleasing 
to you. . . . 

In order to gain time, I shall have to work almost day and 
night the next ten days, otherwise I should not be able to go see 
my dearly beloved next Friday week. ... I miss you so much 
now, that the mere possibility of not seeing you at the appointed 



ENGAGEMENT 305 

time endues me with such powers for work as I have hardly 
ever had before. Don’t get alarmed, you know how much I can 
do when it concerns you in the very least. I shall not fad to get 
through the Wprk, you may depend upon that. I take ‘stock’ of 
the progress of the Dictionary every month, and I find that it 
Will be necessary to see through the press about 52 pp. between 
now and October 5 th, in order to remove any risk of Part II not 
appearing ^t the right time. It seems an awful amount to get 
through, but I never yet did fad to do what I definitely and 
resolutely fixed to do, and there is no reason to suppose that 
I shall fad this time. . . 

Yes, Lizzie dear, you have ‘every bit of my love’ and have had 
it for years, for from the first moment I ever saw you, I could 
never have had any love for anyone else whatever may have 
happened. My great love for my dear old Mother is of another 
kind, and I know you will never grudge her that. Never ‘stop 
to think whether you deserve it all’. ... I am not only to have 
the best woman j,n the world as my wife, but I am to be wholly 
hers, and she mine. And when two people are really and truly 
in that state, they will not only have perfect happiness and bhss 
together, but will 'pull one way entirely’, and accomplish much 
in a long life-time that could not be accomplished m any other 
way. Ah! my dear Lizzie, we will spend much time together in 
pleasant walks and talks, and m reading together. It will be 
such a pleasure to read to you things that you like. And when 
we have got properly settled down, we will do some piece of 
work together, a piece of work which we can look back upon in 
nur old age and feel that we have left the world somewhat better 
for our ever having been m it. And I am sure you will like us 
to have that feeling some day. 

■» West Kirby. Aug. 30, 1896. 

. . . K. laughs at me, and says she likes to see ‘youthful 
delusions’, but I can laugh too, for I know they are more real 
than many apparent cut-and-dned facts. ‘Youthful’ I am, and 
shall be, for I believe love and life, in the best sense is ever 
‘young’ and fresh, of course it must be, else stagnation and 

Rr 



ROMANCE 


306 

decay comes m; that is only plain reason and logic, I am sure. 
And you will be young too, and you will tvork as you have never 
done before, although I know that few men have been as 
‘useful’ and hardworking as you, even up to now,'. . . I have an 
intense admiration for your great capacity for hard work, and 
I should be quite unhappy if ever I thought I lessened that 
' capacity. Hence it rejoices my heart when you say I make it 
greater ... 

Oxford. Aug. 31, 1896. 

. . . We do know how very much we love each other and how- 
ever great our love is now it will continue to grow until our 
dying day. It cannot be otherwise, for without steady growth 
in that all-absorbing element of our lives our union and married 
life would not be precisely of that kind which we know it shall 
be. . . . Whatever tnals and troubles we may have in our 
married life, and there is no life on earth without some of them, 
we shall always be drawn closer and closer together, and find 
from day to day how very necessary the one is to complete the 
being of the other. The one is the complement of the other. . . . 
I have always felt that, and it is just that feeling which has often 
given me superhuman strength of body and mind to overcome 
all difficulties m preparmg the way for what is now a reality — 
to gam the love of my own dear Lizzie. If I had not had you 
as my first thought in everythmg I did, I should long ago have 
sunk beneath the burden. . . 

I have always looked at the bright side of life, but it never 
seemed so bright and cheerful as it does now, since you allowed 
me to live *for you. Lizzie darling, that ts a happy feeling, a 
feeling too which will last until my last day. 

Oxford. Aug. 31, 1896. 

... It pleases me beyond measure to hear you say that your 
‘ideal of love has come true’. . . . 

You are partly right about the Class-work in olden days, I 
did ‘always expect you to give the nght answer’ wheix asked, 
because I knew you did get up your Class-work thoroughly, and 



ENGAGEMENT 307 

much better than any of the others, but on the other hand, I 
never hked to ask you a question at all, if it could be helped. 

I could not treat the woman I loved as an ordinary pupil, it was 
impossible, and often rather than ask you the question, as a last 
resource, I used to tell the previous student the answer. When 
those days came to an end, I was sad, very sad, for I was afraid 
I nught never see you again in this world. If your mind could 
wander through the years of anxiety I have had for you, you 
could not wonder what letter I meant to me. I have lost the 
feehng long ago, but I can never forget it. 

No, Lizzie dear, you know I could not lead an ‘idy life, it 
would be quite contrary to my nature and whole being. I don’t 
know where it,comes from, but it is quite true : 

His nature and his works invite 
To make that duty my delight. 

And work is a real delight to me. I like it for its own sake, and 
when I cease to work I shall die olf. But I shall always have 
plenty of time to* devote entirely to you, for in the future I shall, 

I am sure, do quite as much work in half the time. ... I must 
now settle down to some proofs. Goodnight. . . . 

West Kirby. Aug. 31, 1896. 

. . . There is an article in this week’s Spectator about ‘Being a 
Woman’. I think it poor, and I do not agree with it. The 
writer talks much of the woman’s life being of necessity devoted 
to ‘minutiae’. I have yet to learn, but it seems to me that it 
rather depends on the woman herself whether she leads a hand 
to mouth life over the necessary petty details of every day’s 
work, or whether she makes them take their fit place, and form 
part of a whole. A great many ‘details’ are not ‘isolated forms’, 
because they touch on general pnnciples, and if you keep your 
eye on the principles, the details will dovetail m, and there 
seems to me no special virtue in allowing yourself and your hfe 
to be cihopped up into loose bits, and bear it patiently. And the 
idea of the husband and wife being hke the elephant and his 



3o8 romance 

dnver atop, seems to me a very earth-born way of looking at 
it. . . . We shall not be hke any of the models held out by 
writers of articles. . . . 

Oxford.' Sep. i, 1896. 
... I left you to settle the whole question about servants, and 

think your arrangements excellent I shall let them go on m 

' their own way of doing things unless perchance they turn out 
to be thriftless, and then I shall feel it my duty to givothem some 
strict lessons on domestic economy. I can tolerate much, but 
a wasteful servant would either improve very quickly or be sent 
about her business. You are quite nght, Lizzie dear, ‘other 
people’s wisdom does not always fit’, and that’s the reason 
why I so seldom avail myself of it One goes farthest in this 
world by following the dictates of one’s own conscience, at 
least such is my experience, and I have had a fair amount in 
my time. . . . 

West Kirby. Sep i, 1896. 
. . . Yes — ^you shall plan some work which wC will do together, 
and we will make time for it, without any neglect of the ‘prac- 
tical side’ of domestic life. That has always been my ambition. 
So many women are either wholly domestic, or wholly literary, 
and what I want to aim at is the right mean between the two 
. . . the purely domestic wife, however loving and loved, is fwt 
in complete sympathy with her husband, she is only tending 
the ‘bread- winning’ machine. . . 

Oxford. Sep. 2, 1896 
I am afraid you must have found my last letter very dull. It 
was my intention to write again before going to bed, but it was 
after three before I finished the proofs, so I think you will not 
blame me for not havmg written. When y<our two letters were 
brought to the bedroom door at 7.30 this mormng, they made 
me feel like a giant refreshed with wme. . . . 

I not only know and feel that we love each other with our 
whole heart and soul and that we always shall do so, biA I also 
feel that our ideals of life are so exactly alike that the longer we 



ENGAGEMENT 309 

Uve the more closely we shall be drawn together m all our 
thoughts and actions. . . . 

The new hfe and interests you have given me will ever be 
young and fresh, and m time to come you will see what a really 
useful man I shall and will become all through the great in- 
spinng influence of a devoted and sympathetic wife. It is just 
when two really kindred souls are yoked together, that this hfe 
IS seen in it§ greatest perfection. And I have always felt that we 
were two hndred souls, and often when all seemed dark and 
dreary, that one thmght has been my comfort. Even if it had 
been our fate not to be joined together, I should still never have 
got rid of the feeling that our two hves were linked together in 
some mysteriops manner or other. Hence what I said at the 
bottom of p. 3 of letter III. You might even yet not have been 
coQscious of It, but you would have been some day, it could 
not have been otherwise. And my behef is, that the day is not 
far distant when all your unconsciousness of the past will 
become manifest, and that you will see — ^as I have long done 
so — that we two were inseparable for years For Lizzie darling, 
we are not entirely our own masters, not even of our own wills 
and desires. We often say no most emphatically where there is 
a strong latent yes at the bottom. This may seem a very difficult 
problem, it may seem almost incomprehensible, but it is due 
to* a very simple law, well known to anyone who knows the 
elementary principles of psychology. If A had written B 
letters I and II (especially the latter), and he had shown them 
to me, I should have said with perfect confidence: that will not 
turn out to be a question of ‘Love’s Labour ’s Lost’,'»but whenit 
concerned myself, science broke down. We can often help 
others when we cannot help ourselves when placed precisely 
in the same positior*. That’s exactly how I was, Lizzie darhng, 
I was helpless and miserable. I felt as if I ought to sit down and 
write the history of a wasted life at 40! And now I may some- 
day think of writing the history of two useful lives at 70* What 
a diffeifence the tone would be> . . . 

What you say . . . about the relations of husband and wife is 



ROMANCE 


310 

precisely what I have ever thought. There must be entire 
sympathy with each other in whatever anses in their daily life. 
And you don’t know how it dehghts me to think that we shall 
do some real, lasting piece of work together. Ob! Lizzie dear, 
I am glad to hear you say that. For I want the world to know 
that you too have lived. It has always been my greatest ambi- 
' tion that you would some day join me hand and heart in some 
such work. I shall he proud, because my Love aijd I will do 
somethmg together. , 

I cannot answer your letter fully tomght ; I have much more 
to say, but unless I post this now you will not get it tomorrow. 
And I must also begm my evemng’s work. 

West Kirby Sep. 2, 1896 
. . . You must not go on glonfying your mental picture^ of 
me, else I am sure I shall never be able to live up to such a 
standard! Though at the same time I am fully conscious of the 
fact that It does me a world of good to know that you believe 
so much m me. . . . 

K. says I shall lock myself up and pursue scientific study, 
whilst the household is all at sixes and sevens. But I am sure 
some people must have done it, and in the abstract it is a 
reasonable scheme, that a woman at the head of a household" 
should attend to the details and yet retain a mind for wider 
ideas. Anyhow, I won’t give up my ‘one ewe lamb’ of a notion 
as to the proper way of domestic life' And I knowjou will do 
your very best to keep that poor ‘ewe lamb’ alive! . . . 

You wilhalways have to live up to a very high standard, but 
I have not one shadow of a doubt that you always will even 
surpass my expectations of you. . . . 

Oxford. Sep. 3, 1896. 
... I have arranged for Sarah to stop imtil I am properly 
settled m the new house. ... It would not do for me just now 
to waste a lot of my time in seeing that things are properly 
packed, and impacked again in the new house. I don't mind 
such work as a rule, but the pressure of other work is so great 



ENGAGEMENT 311 

just now, that I can only spare a very httle time indeed in 
looking after everjrthing. ... It is most unfortunate that I 
should be so hard-pressed for time at this juncture. But no 
possible doubt must arise as to my being able to fulfil my 
promise to the Government and the Bntish pubhc. And even 
by working at the very highest pressure, it will require almost 
all my undivided attention. . . 

Now don,’t you go and get into a worry about my work j'ust 
now. I know exactly how much I can stand, I can stand all this, 
and It will not disarrange our meeting next week, nor our much 
looked-for honeymoon one single nunute. . . . 

You may tell from me, if you like, that in my humble 

opinion a woman must be a poor weak creature if her household 
matters — even in a large household — ^take up the greater portion 
of her time. ... I should lead a most unhappy, and I will say, 
a most miserable life — depend upon it — ^if you could, under any 
possible circumstances, ever become a mere Hausfrau. The 
whole of my ideals of life would vanish like froth upon porter. 
I have always conceived my Beloved in entirely a different light. 
. . . We shall live our lives in our own way uninfluenced by 
anybody. We were born to live together, and I don’t beheve 
that ever two people were more conscious of that fact. ... I am 
sure it is a slip of the pen when you speak of ‘your future 
esMtence\ Is it to be nothing more than that? It shall and will 
be a very great deal more. For I could never bear to think of 
you as merely existing. It is my greatest ambition that you 
shall live, not merely exist; and hve too in a way that not many 

women have lived before, if unhmited devotiofif and self- 

^ . 

sacnfice on my part can do anything towards attaimng that 
end. . . . 

West Kirby. Sep. 3, 1896. 

. . . Your letters are so splendidly inspiring. I do like to hear 
all you say about our being ‘kindred souls’. ... No mortal 
woman could '^h for more on earth than that a good man 
should feel towards her as you do towards me. It just hfts one 
above the sordidness, and evil of this world. Not that I hold 



ROMANCE 


312 

the world a bad place, I have long felt that goodness has really 
the upper hand, and that it was only one’s own fault if one did 
not see it more general and widespread. ... I should not, could 
not be all you think of me, but for you. It is yourlove and faith 
in me which builds me up. . . 

K. was talking about love last mght, and she came to the 
' conclusion that I had found a pearl of great price, if I had found 
a man whose love was what I said was my ideal. But there is no 
‘if about It, I know I have. I daresay it is SiOt common, and 
I know I am ‘blessed among women’ in the possession of such 
a love, but I would rather have gone to my grave unloved, than 
have wedded anything less. And anybody who likes may tell 
me, as they do, that marnage is ‘very commonplace’, and that 
a marned woman’s hfe is swamped m petty details, I remain 
fixed in my assured hopes. . . . You know, when we are marned 
you will have to keep me up to the level of my ideals . . . without 
continual support and encouragement, I believe I could easily 
become the detail-tending housekeeper I have ja horror of being. 
You will have much to do looking after me, so make up your 
mind to labour cheerfully at your own hearth when your day’s 
work at the Workshop is over! I shall be fearfully stnct, and 
never allow you one day’s holiday, and I shall give you plenty 
to do. But never mind, I will try and be nice to you’ I 

Oxford. Sep. 4, 1896. 

. . . You did write me such a nice letter last night You 
always do wnte nice letters, but that one surpasses them all; 
for it did me an immense amount of good, as I was not feeling 
particularly bright when I awoke this morning. But your loving 
words set me right, and sent me ‘on my way rejoicing’. I just 
felt brimful of joy and gladness, and I do rejoice as few can, 
when I am really m good spirits, and at those times I cannot 
help trying to fill others with joy who happen to be about me 
on those occasions. That’s why I was so talkative on our dnves 
at Gottingen. I felt I was in the presence of others who were 
really in sympathy with me. From this you must not imagine, 



ENGAGEMENT 


313 

Uiy Beloved, that I am not often in good spirits, you would be 
quite wrong if you did, I am generally in good spints, ... I am 
a highly sensitive man and feel a slight much more than the 
generality of ppople. And my sensitiveness is not due to highly 
strung nerves, it is due to something qmte different. My simple 
heart has always yearned for love, sympathy, and encourage- 
ment. You have given me all these and a thousand things ' 
besides, an^ soon you will be mine, and I shall be yours m the 
fullest sense of tHipse pronouns. I know what a precious treasure 
you will ever be to me, and I rejoice more than words can ex- 
press that I should ever have lived to see the day to feel that you 
love me as I love you. Without it I should be sorely off just 
now, for It inspires me with such working powers as I have 
hardly ever had before. And, Lizzie darling, the Dictionary 
wojk under all circumstances is a tenfold pleasure to me, for 
I undertook it entirely out of my unbounded love for you. 
When I call it your work, I do not speak figuratively. It is 
your work, for without you I could never have undertaken 
entirely upon myself such a gigantic undertabng. I am merely 
your Stellveirtreter ^ the Gennans say. The world little knows 
that It has you to thank and not me one bit. I often smile to 
myself when I read accounts of the work, because the praise 
'is not given to the right source whence all my thoughts and 
ddfeds have come for many many years. It would be premature 
to enlighten the world at present, but someday it will all be 
made known what a man’s deep love for a woman can inspire 
him to do. And I verily believe there is hardly anythmg which 
I could not do with you as my ‘guardian angel’,® for that is 
^actly like what you have been to me, and ever will be. It is 
just this and a many other things that fill me with unbounded 
faith that we shall dfways be happy in our married life. No real 
differences could ever possibly arise, because we are one in 
heart and soul. . . . 

West Kirby. Sep. 4, 1896. 

. . . j[. says that there is no need for a bridegroom to wear 
a frods-coat and top-hat when the bride is weanng a travelling- 



ROMANCE 


314 

dress. He could wear ‘a blue serge smt, and a flower-pot hat*. 
However, you can do what you hke in the matter. . . . Are you 
still clmging to the black tie ? 

/ never said it was ‘most amusing’ to hear all the prophecies 
of my fnends on married life. Indeed, but for the fact that 
nothing really disturbs my peace of mind, I should find it 
depressing. . . . 

If you will write me such beautiful letters, you ’jyill have to 
hold beautiful discourses to me daily, when wtT are married, for 
fear lest I should go and stay away for the sake of getting letters 

from you. . . . Mrs. asked me if it did not ‘seem like a 

dream’, all this prospect of marnage. I said I thought it 
seemed, for the most part, only natural. She talked a good deal 
about housekeeping, and I am always grateful for hints. How 
many of them I shall actually follow, I do not profess to ^y, 
but It IS well to be observant. I was talking about how much 
of the day you would be away, and I said you would alter your 
working-hours a bit, so as to have more aftejnoon time with 
me. She evidently thought you would never really get into the 
way of breakfasting earlier and going to bed earlier than your 
former wont. But I let her remark go without comment, I saw 

no reason why you should be like Mr. . I suppose every 

woman thinks her experience is more or less umversally true, . . . 

r' 

Oxford. Sep. 5, 1896, 

I intended to wnte further last night, but was prevented by 
an unexpected visit from — who took up a great deal of my 

time When I am away from my work, I want every momem 

of the remaming time for my own Beloved. For seeing that I 
cannot be with you just now in the flesh, I must be with you 
in the spirit, I cannot do otherwise than centre my whole 
thoughts upon you. It imparts to my whole bemg such a 
serene calmness as I never thought I should live to possess and 
enjoy, and Lizzie darhng, I do enjoy it. I cannot tell you how 
very much your love, inspiration, and sympathy have done for 
me, they have raised me to a very high level from which I look 



PLATE 


Bialect ^oci'etg. 


Honorary Secretary Prof J Wright, M A , 6 Norham Road, Oxford 
Treasurer* Rev A L Mayhew, M A , i8 Bradmore Road, Oxford 
Bankers Ihe London and County Bank, High Street, Oxford 
Publisher Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press, Amen Corner, London 



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Lo'^t'Tem. 




ENGAGEMENT 315 

down upon everything in quite a new light. I see goodness 
and beauty everywhere now, not that I saw ‘badness and ugli- 
ness’ everywhere before, it is because your love has awakened 
my soul from its long slumber and has transformed me into 
an entirely new being that will continue to grow in that direc- 
tion, It IS one thing to love with a deep and unfathomable love. 
It is quite another thing to feel that that love has been responded ’ 
to m Its purest and unalloyed form. Lizzie darling, I have 
done much, sujJered much, and have even undergone great 
privations'^o gain your love, and now that I have it, the rest of 
my days shall be spent in showing that I am not altogether 
unworthy of it. Whatever you may say or think, I never can 
be fully worthy of it. The world may talk of the ‘weaker sex’ 
as much as it likes, the whole idea is based upon a false concqi- 
ticm; it is based upon the body and not upon the mind, soul, 
and heart, I have always held woman far higher than man in 
God’s creation. If it were otherwise I should never have been 
so intensely interested in the general welfare of womankind. 
St. Paul and the likes of him have much to answer for, and it is 
ever my most pious wish that they will reap their due reward. 
It IS due to them, and them alone, that woman has been such a 
downtrodden creature m the past. It is only the present genera- 
tion of women that is beginning to realize the abject state of 
woman in the past. Not so very long ago^ — ^it still exists in 
many old-fashioned famihes — a woman was regarded as a poor 
weak and feeble-minded creature who had no nght to think for 
herself, but must leave all that to her husband, howeversillyand 
§topid he might be Nay, things were even worse. Tor a woman 
was not generally allowed to choose her own husband, that 
was practically settled for her by her parents or guardian. I am 
thankful that ^ this is passing away. Apart from every other 
consideration, it is much better for the whole human race. . . . 

I knew and felt years ago that there was only one kmd of love 
that could ever satisfy you, and I felt that I had that love if ever 
the day came that I could make it known to you. You could 
never have accepted a ‘secondhand’ love, however great and 



ROMANCE 


316 

polished up it might have been. And it was just that comfort 
which often cheered me when I should otherwise have felt very 
sad. Whatever might have happened in all these intervemng 
years, I feel more than certain now that we should have been 
spared to live together some day. For two kindred souls like 
ours could never have been apart all our hves. ... I long for 
^ our two souls to be together after we leave this world. . . . 

I rejoice greatly to hear you say that the idea af marriage 
being ‘very commonplace’ is most distasteful <to you. Anyone 
who holds such a view has never loved deeply. Yam so far 
advanced as to regard marriage as a dtvtne institution, and even 
amongst some of the most barbarous tribes it is held as being 
a sacred institution. But mankind in its pure -unadulterated 
state, quite uninfluenced by the ideas of modern civilization, 
is m many cardinal points on a higher level than most Christians. 

The real and perfect union of two people who love each 
other as we do cannot be ‘commonplace’. And as for a married 
woman’s life being ‘swamped m petty details’^ all I can say is 
that It depends entirely upon the man and the woman, especially 
the latter. A woman, who is inspired with noble and lofty 
ideals, and who has anything in her otherwise, will always find 
plenty of time to foster her ideals. I have known many such 
cases. ... I think it is a very low and base view of life to think 
that a wife’s life should ever be ‘swamped in petty details’. 
Anyhow I know that yours will not be so ; your friends may tell 
you just what they like . . . the mere thought of your becoming 
a ‘detail-tending housekeeper’ would deprive me of a very great 
deal of the 'pleasure in our marned life It would half bre^ 
my heart, for a portion of my ideal wife would disappear. . . . 
We have our own ideals of the relations between man and wife, 
and we will never give them up. Those <Si yojir friends who 
think different from us now, will hve to see our ideals earned 
out. . . . 

I am sure you would not hke to see your Beloved lead any- 
thing like an idle life, for you know how very foreign it would 
be to his whole nature. Two kindred souls like ours could not 



ENGAGEMENT 


317 

spend a life of idleness, and it would be wicked if we ever tried, 
for It IS our duty to make a right and proper use of those gifts 
which have been bestowed upon us; hence we should not be 
perfectly haj^py if we acted against our better nature. But I 
know and feel that such a thing is impossible. . . . 

West Kirby. Sep. 5, 1896. ’ 

... It is '•only you who would ever believe I made the Dic- 
tionary. I like t® hear you say it, because it shows your good- 
ness of heaift, and nobleness of mind, an ordinary man’s love is 
not a great inspiration as yours is ; but the world m general will 
naturally take you for the author. The world taken m a mass, 
is prosaic, but love hke yours is pure poetry. I doubt if you 
will find anyone except me who will call the Dictionary the 
most poetical work of the age. It is just a plain tangible proof 
of what I have known from the first, that your love is something 
higher than things of this earth, and therefore it gives you a 
power beyond ordmary mortals. I am sure it does And so of 
course it lifts me above the level where I should have remained 
without It. . . . 

Oxford. Sep. 6, 1896. 

A copy of the Westrrunster Review has just been sent to me 
' containing a notice of your Dictionary. And amongst other 
tilings it says Tt promises to be a work of stupendous impor- 
tance.’ I do like to read these notices, not for my own sake but 
for yours. And they would please me all the more if the wnters 
of them knew the exact truth how it had all been undertaken 
Qut of my great love for you. If all that was poisible in the 
past, you can well imagine, my Darling, what can be done in the 
future with your sympathy and encouragement. . . . 

It seems so §traij!ge to me that people will insist upon tellmg 
you that I shall never ‘get into the way of breakfasting earher 
and of go ing to bed earlier’. It is really absurd, for the simple 
reason that it only requires me to go to bed earlier to get up 
earlier: It is a mere change of hours. And I should be a poor 
creature if I could not change my hours, especially when I know 



ROMANCE 


318 

that the change will be for my own good in every way. That 
will not be a difficulty. The difficulty you will have to confend 
with will be to accustom me to take more rest, if I am to live 
to be an old man. It stands to reason that I cannot ahoays work 
at such high pressure, and do with so little sleep as I have done 
with for many years I am an uncommonly strong man, but 
• there are limits even to great strength. If I had ever forsaken 
the simple habits of my youth, I should have beei* dead long 
ago. That is the great secret why I am still so.strong for a man 
who has undergone so much. And Lizzie dear, whflt sort of a 
man must you think me very soon if I say now that we shall 
always be in perfect harmony in all things, if I were not quite 
certain in my own mind that such will be the ease. Surely I 
should be trying to appear to you what I am not, and trying to 
hide from you what I really am. And I will add by way, of 
corollary, that if I were to attempt it and succeed, I should have 
nothing to learn in hypocrisy. Such a thing put into plain 
language is downright deception. . . . the ipere thought of 
deceiving you in the most tnfling matter could never enter my 
mind. . . . 

Since we last met I have got through a good deal of work, 
more I think, than I ever got through before in the same time. 
And I shall do nothing but prepare copy the next days and save * 
up the proofs to be done at Harmston [West Elirby]. ... 

Oxford. Sep. 6, (2), 1896, 

. . . There will never be a ‘lord and master’ in our home 
We shall always love and cherish each other so much that we 
shall never have either master or mistress, we shall be one in all 
our ways and deeds ; it could not be otherwise with two kindred 
souls like ours, for ours are kindred souls, nay something much 
more, our hearts and souls are a perfect unity in all that con- 
cerns us in this world. I know it and feel it; and nothing could 
possibly arise in our marned life to disturb it It is just this 
great assurance that inspires me so very much, and gives me 
new life and strength. ... I had high ideals already, but^you 



ENGAGEMENT 319 

have given me higher, I had deep and profound love for you, 
but ’you have strengthened it and made it firmer than any 
rock. . . . 

West Kirby. Sep. 6, 1896. 

... Of course you know your own worth, a man who does 
not, is a very poor creature. Strongly as I object to the theory 
that the husband is the ‘lord and master’ of the wife, yet I am 
equally convmced that I could never marry a man I did not 
look up tQ as a "superior being ... It is only a month on 
Tuesday, ai&d then all your years and years of waiting will be 
for ever past and over. I do like to hear all your views on 
marriage, it is just what one’s better nature recogmses as 
wholly true, but which one seldom meets with in what one 
hears or reads in these days. I do not beUeve such love as yours 
IS Common — I mean often to be found — ^and I can never be 
thankful enough that such has fallen to my share. Many men 
may have very good love, but from weakness or stupidity of 
character, it ranks on a lower level — ^but yours lacks no beauty 
or strength of any sort. . . . 

Oxford Sep. 7, 1896. 

... I could never in those early letters have made the com- 
' parison to which you refer, not only for the reasons which you 
askign, but also for another very vahd reason: I should have 
lost no small portion of my self respect. There is a time for 
everything, and when the time did come, I had not the least 
hesitation to tell you all about my early years, m fact I liked to 
tell you, and shall tell you much more in days to cdttie. I want 
you to know all about me right from the time that I could walk 
and talk, but more especially from my 6th year onwards And 
you will tell me alh about your early years. ... I am sure we 
shall find that we had similar thoughts about many things even 
then. It IS quite impossible that we should have developed all 
our kindred feelmgs in a short time, and that is the reason why 
I hold Vith such certamty that we should have come together 
sometime even if we had not yet seen each other. . . . 



320 ROMANCE 

West Kirhy. Sep. 7, 1896, 
... I should like to see the Westminster Review very mtich, 
to see how ‘stupendously important’ you are* . . You must 
not be disconcerted over what I tell you of the remarks of my 
friends and acquaintances about marriage Perhaps they gej 
quite a diiferent colour on paper I never mind a bit. I don’t 
f even feel they are slighting you, else I should be resentful too, 
they simply do not know you, therefore their remarks do not 
apply to us at all, and can be allowed to pass by as mere abstract 
remarks on hypothetical cases ... ^ ' 

I shall find no ‘difficulty’ in making you ‘rest’. I shall take 
mighty care of you* You will find looking after me a ‘rest’-ful 
task probably, and I am sure I can be very peaceful when the 
weather is good, and things go smoothly, and so I have nothing 
to make me fractious* I like to put the worst plainly before 
you, you see. And even when ‘fractious’, I shall not hurl tea- 
cups and fire-irons about, that is not at all my style, so that 
under the worst circumstances ‘rest’ need not be impossible. 

, . . fancy having laboured all these years for a ‘fractious’ wife! 
The weather is now improving, and my spirits are rising a bit, 
you perceive. I expect they will be at a goodly level by Thurs- 
day, although you have to put up with a dull and stupid letter 
today. 

Oxford. Sep. 8, 1896. 
. . . You may have forgotten it, but years ago — I believe 4J — 
we had a httle discussion at the Masonic fote about the date of 
composition of a glee sung there about Cupid’s arrow. You 
little knew then what a stout manly heart had been pierced to 
the quick with immutable love for you long before then. . T . 
Some people might think that this was bordering upon infatua- 
tion, but it was not so. It was a feeling quite different from the 
hteral meamng of that word, for it did not unxirni me and cause 
me to do stupid things, the very opposite. ... I have done my 
best, and shall do it until death takes us away. It is not easy 
to write just now, we are having the most temble thunder- 
storm I have ever experienced even on the Continent, andfhat 



ENGAGEMENT 321 

is saying much. The awful claps of thunder are almost simul- 
tarieous with the hghtnmg, and the rush of air literally shakes 
the windows and doors. Such a storm does not affect me 
generally, biyt I do feel very lonely with you so far from me at 
,this moment. It is not that I have any superstition about a 
storm of this kind, I know the ongin of it, but it does somehow 
make me feel very lonely, and yearn with all my heart that my^ 
dear Lizzie was with me at tlus moment. When I began to 
write there was,, so far as I knew, no sign of a storm except that 
it seemed- i^ery sultry for this time of the mght, but the flashing 
of the lightning and the roanng of the thunder seem to tell me 
what Lizzie is to me : my all. 

I am sending you the group of my assistants. Miss Partridge 
you already know. Miss Yates, my second assistant, is just to 
the nght of Mr. Mayhew, and although she is very learned in 
Law and History — she took both triposes at Cambridge — she 
has all those womanly virtues which you admire so much. On 
the nght of Miss Y. is one of my j'umor assistants. Miss Horsley, 
m whom I take a special interest, because, as you can see, she 
IS very delicate in body. I don’t know how to explain it, but 
all my life I have felt a kind of attraction for delicate people. 
The others can help themselves in a way, but it is my duty to 
help the weak, for verily I have been endowed with super- 
‘flatural strength. That has never been so manifest to me until 
I knew that your love was mme. That has made me doubly 
strong. Lizzie, my dear Lizzie, when we two become old, 
and life is on the wane, it will be our duty to hand down to 
future generations the life and experience of two truly kindred 
souls. . . . 

You have such an influence over me that I feel more and 
more every day how perfect our union will be in every way. 
Your influence is exactly of that nature and extent which every 
woman should have over the man of her choice. And if I were 
a woman I should make myself quite sure that I possessed that 
influence in its fullest extent. It is far more important than 
most women suppose, for it contributes very much to real 



ROMANCE 


322 

happiness in home hfe. It is often the lack of this influence 
wluch gives rise to petty worries in married life. ... 

West Kirby Sjsp. 8, 1896. 

... If I sat down to tell about my early years, it would be a „ 
very dull, uneventful tale. I was never interesting or surprising. 

I was fearfully shy, for when we were small we were not taken 
out to parties and theatres like the modern child, because my 
parents had no money to spend on such things. So we were 
not accustomed to strangers. We were sent to bed y€ry early, 
and sent out of doors a great deal, and we had short hours of 
lessons, and were expected to be attentive during those hours. 
When I went to school, and had many more houjrs of lessons, 
and very little outdoor exercise — none in fact, beyond one 
hour’s walk, and a 20 minutes in the garden in the morning— I 
was miserable. I wept for a month, but that was mainly because 
I was tom away from my Mother for the first time, though I 
was then 15. I was thought to be good at my lessons ; and to 
have high principles, because I told the head-mistress that I 
had broken a chair! The boarding-school was not wholly bad, 
it gave us friends, and kept us from growing up entirely without 
the society of girls of our own age. That was the reason why 
we were sent there. . . . 

My actual childhood was really simpler than yours, for yoif ” 
were at work, when I was still in the nursery. . . . We had few 
toys, and no excitements, and whatever people nowadays may 
say, I am sure it was very wise treatment. You can see too, 
that we had a* good nurse! We are still young and fresh in our 
minds, and still have stores of quiet energy. When you think 
so much of me, you must remember that it is nearly all owing 
to my parents, chiefly to my Mother. The 4 onger I hve the 
more I see how wise she has ever been, and how very much I 
owe to her. It is she who has always taught us in every way 
to lead good and quiet lives, and to know that usefulness 
and happiness is not to be found in outside show and excite- 
ment. 



ENGAGEMENT 


323 

I am learmng a very great deal from .you, and shall learn 
mdre, but the seeds were already sown. . . . 

West Ktrhy. Sep. 9, 1896. 

... I fear I have as yet no capacity for admiring cloth for 
masculine attire! I will do my best to acquire one m time. 
However, my Mother and E. say the pattern you send is very- 
neat and good for trousers. If your tie is really ‘to match’, then, 
it strikes me, you have but departed from the attire of ‘chief 
mourner*' qt a funeral, to that of ‘sympathismg friend of the 
family’ ' And I see nothing for it, but that I should select your 
tie myself, and present it to you, when you would be forced to 
wear it! ^ 

With regard to your views on the wedding hours, I am m- 
clined to' be' ‘fractious’. I think I shall have to preach you a 
se^on on: ‘The Bride, the Bndegroom, and the Wedding, 
from the stnctly secular and popular standpoint.’ There are 
certain general^pnnciples to be adhered to, despite the time- 
tables of Railway Compames, and natural geography. My idea 
is to cleave to my principles on the subject, and the details will 
take care of themselves. I am quite sure ‘women take more 
interest in marnages (and weddmgs too, i.e. the ceremony) 
than men do’. The bride and bridegroom naturally imagme 
They are the chief persons to be considered on the wed- 
ding-day— they are, and they are not, herein heth the com- 
plexity. . . . 

You must not say too much about my ‘influence’ over you, 
or you will frighten me into thinking that it may be bad! And 
il seems a pity for you that you should have such a penetratmg 
vision into my mmd, because you will feel the discomfort of 
all my ‘fractious’ states, which might better be ‘consumed on 
the premises’.' Of course, on the other hand, you will have the 
benefit of knowing when storms are brewing, and will be able, 
with the aid of a bicycle, rapidly to put several miles between 
yoursdif and the storm. That will be a convenience. What a 
tiroe you will have! You had better ‘make hay while the sun 



ROMANCE 


324 

shines’ m Langdale House' You have not many weeks left 
for your hay harvest now. 

I am not nearly as sure as you are about your not ‘spoiling’ 
me. I shall come to Liverpool wet or fine tomorifow. 

Langdale House, Park Town, Oxford 

Sep. 15, 1896. 

My train was over an hour late, so that I have n® time for a 
proper letter to reach you in the morning. . . 

It won’t be long now, my Beloved, before we me^t'to part no 
more. I shall rejoice when that day comes, it will be the one 
great event m my life, an event too which will mean complete 
happmess for the rest of my days. The more w,e are together 
the more am I strongly and most assuredly convinced that we 
shall always be one in all things that concern us. I was so proud 
of your wise counsel yesterday morning when we discussed 
the verb ‘to be’. I thought you would some day take an interest 
in the Dictionary, but I had never realized until then how very 
helpful your advice would be. . What I endured during that 
time [the previous two years, when no publisher would under- 
take the E D.D. and he resolved to finance it himself] you can 
never know fully; it would seem so incredible, but I did, and 
did it successfully too, out of my great love for you. If I am 
spared long enough, my Beloved, I will still do much more fu 
years to come. 

West Kirby. Sep. 15, 1896. 

. . . You must most certainly talk to me about my Dictionary 
(as you like me to call it), for it was really a refreshment and a 
pleasure to hear you tell me all about the article on ‘to be’ — 5t 
fed the starving remnant of my philological mind, to the great 
satisfaction of the said starving remnant! F»r, although neither 
you nor I think Philology exactly a vital necessity, yet it is so 
far interesting, that I have often felt a thrill of pure pleasure 
over discovering the explanation, or following the explanation 
of a hard point. You don’t know how much I used to enjoy 
the hours you used to give me over my Grammar difficulties. 



ENGAGEMENT 325 

I always felt so much ‘sharper’ when in contact with your 
mihd — ^and we shall hve to feel that still more. . . . 

, *, Oxford Sep. 16, 1896. 

... My mind is never sluggish, in fact it is always rather 
active, but it is never so active as when I amtalbngwithyou. . . 

I made myself quite clear about the treatment of the verb Ho he' • 
when on a^alk with you. When we walk and I don’t talk, you 
can always safely assume that my mind is very far from being 
inactive th^. It is just when I am with you that I can think 
rapidly and most clearly. You always have had a most mysteri- 
ous influence over me, and I feel it now much more than I used 
to do. I havg often tried to explam to myself the why and 
wherefore, but I never yet succeeded in explaining it satis- 
factorily.’. . . Whatever the real explanation may be, it is the 
very greatest blessing that could ever have happened to me. . . . 
And rest assured my dear dear Lizzie, that great as my love for 
you is. It caimot help growing still greater every day of my life. 

. . . The growth is steady, firm and sure. . . . 

West Kirby. Sep. 16, 1896 

. . . You may say you are ‘proud’ to hear me talk about your 
work, but 7 am much prouder to hear you say I am ‘helpful’. . . . 
T shall get to know more and more all you have ‘endured’ in 
the past, and it will but make it the sweeter for me now to help 
and comfort you. And I am sure you will never repent of any- 
thing you have done, for you will see — (indeed you know it 
now) — ^how much stronger and nobler is love hkeyours which 
IS built out of all that toil and struggle, than a love which is only 
part and parcel of a life of prosperity and ease. And remember 
too, Joe dear, that the woman to whom you have given that 
love knozDS the reality and beauty of it, and is and will be 
thankful every day of her life that she has been found worthy 
of it. . . . 

Th6 influence of one’s friends is sometimes good, sometimes 
nqtso good, or even bad, but your influence Joe, is always good. 



ROMANCE 


326 

Of that ‘there is nae doot’, as you would say. And it is just 
that ‘nae doot’ which is so comforting. ... 


Oxford, ^ep. 17, 1896. 

. . . With me it is not a new love, but a very old love that h^ 
had years and years of steady growth; it never wavered, it was 
f never dormant, but ever the uppermost feeling in my manly 
breast. . . . 

Amidst all my trials and troubles the mere thought of Lizzie 
made them vamsh and everything was well again^ . It is a 
love too that can deepen and widen and will do so, for there is 
nothing in this world that could prevent it doing so ; for it is 
what I may term a healthy love, pure, simple, un 4 efiled in every 
way. . . . 

I never felt so lonely all my life as I have done the? last three 
days, and in order to throw it off as much as possible I work like 
a ‘madman’. It is really a great blessing that I have so much 
work to do, for when I am free from the work I can give up my 
whole heart and soul to you in a way that would be quite 
impossible if I had nothir^ to do. There is nothing like fixed 
and regular employment for keeping the mind m a healthy 
state. It prevents brooding which is seldom of any good, to 
anyone, at any time. . . . 

I am always thinking about the kind of life we will leSu 
together. We have both set ourselves very high id«ils, and I 
am sure we shall live up to them, and we shall grow to have 
still higher ideals, for we start our new life with such a perfect 
unity of heart and soul that we shall always go hand in hand 
along the path of our married life, and be a good example to 
others; we, in our lives, will show the world that there is such 
a thing as real perfect happiness on earth. 

Oxford. Sep. 17, 1896. 

... It is always such a comfort to me to feel that our trust 
in each other is so great that we can always pour forth ouf whole 
hearts to one another* I have ever believed that such should.be 



ENGAGEMENT 327 

the case with two people who are to live together for the rest of 
theif lives, and I am quite sure that the neglect to do so is the 
real cause of much unhappiness in marned life. Our married 
life shall an 4 vyill be happy, there is nothing to mar it. . . And 
although we will live for one another . . . yet we will not lead 
a selfish and useless life. It will take us some months before 
we are properly settled in our new home, but then we will start " 
a piece of w#rk together which will be a lasting monument that 
Joe and Lizzie di^ do something to aid future generations, and 
that theirs 'was a good and useful life. . . . 

West Kir}^. Sep. 17, 1896 
. . . Popular phraseology talks of marriage as an assuming of 
‘bonds’, but you give the right word when you speak to me of 
‘freedom’— th2Lt is exactly what I am panting for now, what I 
feel will be mine on October 6th, and for ever afterwards. I 
knew of old when we discussed philology, how my mind shot 
up to a level of sharpness that did not belong to it when alone, 
and how much more is that the case now. . . . 

I have bought a little present for you I It is not nearly mce 
enough for you, but it is fairly nice, and I shall bnng it to you 
on that distant day called next Tuesday, in common parlance. . . . 

Oxford, Sep. 17, 1896. 

. . . My assistants have just sent me the most beautiful stand 
and copper kettle I have ever seen. ... I am very proud of it 
because I never expected or thought that they wo^jid give me 
anything. In fact the thought had never entered my mind, 
either one way or the other. I did know that they are all much 
devoted to me and my work, and they all know that I take a 
most friendly inter^t in everythmg that concerns them, even 
outside the ‘Workshop’. I have always taken much interest in 
the welfare of women, and I think that I may safely make 
bold enpugh to say that I have always shown it in word and 
deed. . . . 



328 


ROMANCE 


Oxford. Sep. i8, 1896. 

There is a long notice of the Dictionary, nearly two colu'mns 
in ‘The Literary World’ for this week. It is divided up into 
§§ and § 2 begins thus : ‘Twenty-three years ago Dr. Joseph 
Wright, who has done so much for the elucidation of Anglc^- 
Saxon and early English, founded the Dialect Society, and the 
English Dialect Dictionary.’ etc. Now — I will leave you to 
decide whether it would be possible to get more misstatements 
into less room'! 

Es lebe the Yorkshirewoman ! 1 I will wnte to Mrs. Wood this 
evening. I am so much relieved to hear that you will come on 
Tuesday. . . . 

As you rightly said in one of your recent letters : ‘Philology 
is of no vital importance to us,’ that never formed the least 
factor with either of us. Had it ever once entered my head to 
think that it had the least bit to do with my deep love for you, I 
should most assuredly think there was just one grain of selfish- 
ness in my love; and therefore my love would not be quite 
pure and noble. . • . Your letter this morning did me much 
good. I rejoiced to think — though I knew it before — ^how when 
we are together our minds are placed upon a far higher level 
than when we are apart. It is only then that our minds are at 
ease and perfectly calm, unfettered by surroimdings antagoms-" 
tic to our whole mode of thinking. We do think alike, LizSlc ‘ 
dear, even in small things, and all the more so in great thmgs, 
and that is why I am so sure and confident that we shall be 
very happy together in our married life. . . . What you have 
long needed is encouragement, real sympathy, and someone 
who can and does have the greatest trust and confidence 'in 
you. ... I can and shall give you all these in their fullest 
extent. ... ^ 

I do like work for its own sake, not merely because I must 
work to live. Had I gone on the latter pnnciple, I should still 
be in my native village amidst my early surroundings. And I 
am quite sure that the lack of constant hard work is the cause 
of a very great deal of unhappiness especially in the middle^^nd 



ENGAGEMENT 329 

upper classes. Happy is the man who has-a burden just as ‘big’ 
as he can bear, and never troubles himself about what he sV>al| 
eat and drink, and with what raiment he shall clothe himself; 
It IS a downright waste of valuable time, and reduces the mind 
to a low, and I might say, base level. I do not imply by this 
that a man should spend all his tune in books; by no means, 
for such a man only exists, he cannot be said to live ; nor should" 
a man be deficient m the practical side of life, for the workman 
is worthy of his hire, and he who thinks otherwise has a deficient 
brain, a brdn that is not well balanced. In olden days when I 
was deeply interested in matters about which we have never yet 
talked much, I have often spoken freely before large audiences, 
that he who earns not, should not eat. I do not feel so strongly 
about these things now because I am no longer in close touch 
with the elements that used to spur me on to take such an active 
part m social problems. 

I was unable to begin my letter today as early as I should 
have wished, I^am therefore sending off the first mstalment by 
this post, lest it should not reach you by the first post in the 
mommg . . . 

Oxford. Sep. 18, 1896. 

. . . All my books are in such a muddle, and I don’t think 
I shall have tune to put them straight until after we return from 
^r honeymoon. They are all m the bookcases, and there was 
no need for them to have become all mixed up together like 
they have, if the men had followed my instructions. ... I want 
all the time I can spare from proofsheet readmg m the evening 
for you. I sent nearly 4000 shps to the receivmg room today 
fsrhich will make about 32 pages. Sixty pages of Part II are now 
in type, so that what is in type, and the copy just sent in will 
make over 90 pag^es, which means that I am now quite free 
from any possible risk of Part II not being ready for issue by 
the appointed time. A few weeks ago I was most anxious lest 
I might possibly fail to fulfil my promise, but with the inspira- 
tion from you Lizzie, I do really seem to acqmre superhuman 
st£gptgth, and what is very strange, I seem to transmit it to my 



ROMANCE 


330 

senior Assistants, for they too have got through much more 
work than usual m the same time. ... 

I should like to wnte mqre, but I must now begin to read 
proofs. 

Goodmght my own Beloved, 

ever your own Joe. 

West Kirby. Sep^ 18, 1896 
... I think there must be something elecfnc about your 
letters sometimes, and the effect they have on me. Biit I really 
believe it comes from the fact that, as you say, your love is such 
a ^healthy' love. I feel it to be so animating, and invigorating. 

. . Don’t work yourself to death, or I shall be.sorry I have 
planned extra days for you to be away here* . . . 

You will find that in these solemn things, as in thirigs not .so 
important, that you and I dovetail into one another in a wonder- 
ful manner, each giving to the other what the other would lack 
alone. My religion lacks a strength and backbpne which you 
pre-eminently possess, and can and do impart to me. My faith, 
I know, will not bear a very great strain by itself — I have ex- 
perienced that — ^yours would y though you might not think it. 
I feel sure of that, for my faith in you is boundless, and I, at 
every turn, find even more than I had expected in you. . . . 

I am so marvelling at your foresight in knowing long ago 
how much I should feel the necessity of cutting our engagement 
short. I had unhesitating confidence in you even then, but I 
daily learn new reasons why that confidence was well founded 
and grounded. . . . What a joyful time we shall have on our 
honeymoon. I expect I shall feel like the good old ‘Aunt Jane’, 
who, when she last came to Tedstone, was discovered by the 
gardener sitting on a heap of pea-sticks, singing put loudly for 
pure joy of heart. And if she could feel like that at 75 or more 
(she is now about 8a), and all alone, what shall 1 feel like at my 
age, and with you beside me! It will be ‘goodbye’ to all your 
holidays all by yourself, or with other people. 'I know I shall 
be fearfully exacting in keeping you with me — ^but it won’tJae 



ENGAGEMENT 331 

much of a hardship for you, will it! (You* observe that I do not 
put ‘notes of interrogation’ after questions that are not ques- 
tions really.) Goodbye . . and dqn’t forgo too much sleep for 
the sake of Waiting to me, although even the sight of your hand- 
,wntmg on an envelope is like food to the hungry. / 

Oxford. Sep. 19, 1896.' 

... I always have been an optimist, and looked at the bright 
and cheerful side of hfe owing to my strong body, healthy 
mind, sndjixed occupation; but ... I never appreciated the 
bright side of life so much as I do now, and I shall appreciate 
it still more the longer we two are spared. . . . 

As the world knows me, I am regarded as having a most 
pronoxmced individuahty, and an iron 'wiU that can remove any 
obstacle 'that crosses my path. Whatever I am, no one would 
ever say that I am a poor, weak, submissive creature that 
requires someone to prop me up. And that is quite true. I 
want no one to prop me up in anything that does not concern 
my Lizzie and me. In everything else I know how to help 
myself, and can and do have enough left to be of help to others. 
But with you and me it is quite different, we are each the neces- 
sary complement to the other, apart we can do little, enjoy 
little, but umted my Darling, we can and shall form a Whok 
“which will have a mighty influence on those around us. I never 
could have been satisfied with the ordmary views of married 
life, I have always regarded it as the highest state of perfection 
that a man or woman can attain, and therefore no one ought 
to enter into it without being sure that there is perfect love on 
both sides, for without that assurance there is dways the great 
danger that marnage may prove a failure, and render two lives 
miserable in.the*long run, through being unequally yoked 
together. ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together’ is a saying 
that -will hold good in all ages and for all time. For no greater 
misfortune can happen to a man and woman than that they 
should have tcT hve together under these conditions. But how 
vas% different are the conditions under which we two have 



ROMANCE 


332 

been brought together If there is such a thing — and I believe 
there is — ^as a perfect union of two hearts, we have that union, 

I know It, I feel it, and it» makes my whole heart, rejoice to 
think of It. And the longer you live the more yoirwll become 
conscious of the fact that for years there has been some mysteri-* 
ous irresistible power operating on both sides that linked us 
together in a way that could not lead to our being apart for 
ever. Lizzie darling, you may not realize that yet* but I am 
sure you will some day. And from two or three senjences in 
your last two letters, it will soon — perhaps sooner than you 
think — dawn upon you. . . . 

West Kirby. Sep. 19, 1896. 

... You really must tell me the history of all the combined 
virtues you espied in me from the first. I am always wanting 
to know, only I don’t ask, because you may be wishing to save 
It up for that all-glonous time called ‘the honeymoon’. It is 
said, I believe, that people love each other much more after 
they are married. I wonder, in that case, if this'earth will hold 
you and me! I don’t think it will, myself. 

I can quite believe your new vigour over your work is infec- 
tious, and that the Assistants catch it. I am proud and pleased 
that you are so well on, and can safely feel sure that Part II 
will come out in due time. Not that I ever doubted it, I dijL 
not. . . . 

I think you may trust me not to abuse the ‘freedom’ you will 
give me all my life. And even when I become the sturdy, self- 
reliant being j’ou prophesy, I will try not to be a tyrant! Fancy 
being a tyrant to you ! I couldn’t, for you are my prop and stay, 
and I should be setting myself up against myself really! The 
idea is so confusing, I cannot follow it out. . . . 

Oxford. Sep. 20, 1896. 

... It is entirely foreign to your nature to be ‘frac^us’. 
What you call fractiousness is due to causes which will soon be 
removed for ever. Remove the cause and there can be no effect 
is a very elementary prindple. ... I will tell you what the cause 



ENGAGEMENT 


333 

is : it IS your inner unconsaous self striving for freedom, liberty, 
and independence in thought and action If you were to read 
a whole book on the subject you wpuld find the gist of it con- 
tained in that one sentence. There never was a woman whose 
’ whole soul yearned more for that state than yours does. You 
may not be as conscious of it as I am, I am very conscious of it 
. . . when you do get that state there will be a grand awakening’ 
of your whole soul which has — so to say — ^been pent up for 
more than half , your life. It will seem to change your whole 
nature, but,such will not be the case really, it will only mean 
that Its bonds and fetters have been removed and that it can 
blossom forth. ... All this is necessary to your perfect happi- 
ness and peace of mind and soul. I know and feel it is, I 
have felt it long. And [you] . . shall have it all and more too 
so^ar as it is in my power. . . . 

I long to tell you a very great many other things, especially 
about my life and that of my Mother up to February 1876. It 
was then that J left home for the first day in my life; we both 
knew how necessary it was for me to go for my future develop- 
ment, I felt that I must go to that country of scholars, and I 
went ... I know you will be helpful to me in every way. For 
when two people have such love as ours, they become wholly 
absorbed the one in the other, and each ceases to have a 
separate existence so to say. It is the most perfect state that 
ran be attained on earth, and blessed are the man and woman 
who have attained it. Lizzie, my dear Lizzie, I do feel that we 
have attained it even long ago. A separate existence is now 
entirely impossible even for a few days at a time. We realize 
thia now — I do very much — ^and we shall realize it still more 
after the 6th, for we shall then be always together, and all our 
aspirations will gibw together as long as we live. . . . 

Oxford. Sep. 21, 1896. 

... I do long for that day to come when we shall begm our 
new l^e and be happy together for ever. I cannot tell you how 
muCh your love has filled me with the loftiest aspirations, aspira- 



ROMANCE 


334 

tions too which I could never have had without your love and 
influence. I just live upon them, and they areas necessary to* me 
as air and food, for I could not even exist without them now. . . . 

I had a letter from my Mother today, intimating that a big 
box of useful things has been despatched here for us. Sh^. 
wishes me to send you her very best love and to say she is 
* longing to see you on our way back to Oxford My present 
idea is that it will be best if we can stay three days at Ilkley and 
she will come on one day to see us alone, she does not want my 
brothers to be there. Then on the next day we could spend the 
afternoon with her at Windhill; it is only 20 mins, by train 
from Ilkley to Windhill. Anyhow, if we can manage it, I 
should very much like us to see my Mother when we are in the 
North. When I was last at home she was always talking about 
‘Aer’. She doesn’t call you by your name I will t€ll you,on 
our honeymoon all about her, and then you can never wonder 
why we have always been so much attached to each other. 
And Lizzie darling, you will reap much bene% from it, for it 
taught me at an early and most impressionable period of life 
the inestimable value of pure love and devotion. It was she 
who sowed the seed, and we shall reap the harvest. It was 
just our great devotion to each other that instilled into me 
the profound respect I have always had, since I grew up,* 
for womankind. And had it not been for those early years, T ^ 
should probably never have had such high ideals about love 
and marnage. Without those high ideals I could never have 
aspired to gam your love and ask you to be my wife. . . 

I have nSver had time to play at any games at all, I have 
spent all my life — so to say — ^in qualifying myself in some 
degree for that state of life into which we are about to enter. 
That has been my one end and aim in life fo? moje than twenty 
years. Its bin o wiari muild an teu, bad na it gets nia t’end 
[= it has been a weary toil and struggle, but now it getirnear 
the end] ; I read the whole poem to you last Monday [poem by 
Ben Preston]. ... I shall rejoice to-morrow afternoon ;*if you 
were not coming, I should pack up and come to W.K. . 



ENGAGEMENT 


335 

West Ktrhy. Sep. 20, 1896. 

. I am afraid you are getting really frightened at the 
nximber of presents I am getting. . I am afraid you perhaps 
a little feel diat your mdependence is encroached upon when 
people give so many things which will serve as furniture to our 
new home? But I am sure you will find the house looks still 
ours, and not the general pubhc’s. If you think of any house you * 
go into, and imagme each picture, ornament, inkstand, tea-pot, 
spoon, etc. donp up into a separate parcel, it would look a 
large heap, ,but leave them where they stand, and the house 
neither looks crowded nor features a pawn-shop! 

I should feel it extravagant to buy all these tlungs, yet I shall 
love to have them to look at, and to make the house look not 
like a bachelor’s dwelling! What a lot you will have to put 
up.with! *1 had such a charming silver inkstand this mormng 
from an old lady I hardly know at all. . . . Try and bear up! 
Remember that I am commg to see you tomorrow, if 
the inkstand njakes you feel dejected. That will go a long 
way towards raising your spirits even imder the most trying 
circumstances* . . . 

This IS a fearfully dull letter, but I shall see you tomorrow, 
and can tell you the rest, only ‘the rest’ will take a hfe-time! 

Oxford. Sep. 23, 1896. 

. . . My work is now in a most advanced state, more so than 
I knew until Miss Partridge and I made an exact calculation 
this morning. . . . Those women have been very good to me 
lately, they always have been good, but when I Explained at 
tea some time ago that a certain amount must be got through by 
Oct. 5th, it is really wonderful how they have worked to help 
me. But won^en are so much more kind and thoughtful than 
men, especially in a matter of this kind. They realize the state 
of th^ituation. We will ask them all to tea someday . . . for 
I should hke to show them how much I appreciate their good- 
ness of heart. . T . If I finish my work before two o’clock, I will 
b&sure to write before I go to bed. . . . 



336 


ROMANCE 


Oxford. Sep 24, 1896. 

... I am surprised that you have never yet seen a Shake- 
spearean play at the Lyceum. . . . We will go the very first time 
an opportunity presents itself, and before we start,we will read * 
Then to the well-trod stage anon, 

If Jonson’s learned sock be on. 

Or sweetest Shakespear, Fancy’s child, 

Warble his native woodnotes wild 

You know where that comes from. And I will just tell you why 
I am not quite so ignorant of Engl. Lit as my p'hilologist 
fnends may suppose. When we were out for a walk not long 
ago, I told you how very ignorant I was some years ago in 
E Lit. and that I set myself hard to work to c^par away that 
ignorance. Lizzie darling, it may seem strange, but you were 
really at the bottom of it all. And it was caused by a casual 
remark of yours years ago. I said to myself at the time: well 
then, I must do some literature thoroughly. Now . . . can you 
tell me what that said remark was ? As time goes on you will 
find out how very many things I have done in years gone by 
lentirely with a view that they might be pleasing in your eye 
some day. I have been prepanng the way ploddingly, and 
^hopiugly' -ior all these years, long before anybody could have 

had the least idea that I was deeply in love with you. h^iss 

says: ‘Some of us have known for years!’ But they were orafp" 
‘Guesses at Truth’, but they were good guesses for all that. I 
don’t mind what they say about it, in fact I now rather like 
people to say that it has been ‘known to some of us for 
years’. ... ' 

I had an invitation this morning to dinner to meet the Lord 
Mayor of London on Oct. sthW What a splendid excuse I shall 
have for declining iti . . . ^ 

I shall be glad when 4.30 to-morrow afternoon comes, for 
my whole soul yearns to see you again. And if the weaifeer is 
better than it was at W K. last time, we will spend much time 
in the open air, ... It adways does me so much good to g (5 walks 
with you. I did feel proud of you on our little walk yesterday 



ENGAGEMENT 


337 

momkig. When we are settled in our new home we will always 
tdte our walks together. ... 

1 told the Assistants today that that was probably the last 
time I shopld be at tea with them. They asked me if I wouldn’t 
stay sometimes! 

Goodbye imtil tomorrow. 

West Kirhy. Sep. 30, 1896, 
... I feel our great hope is now so near realisation, that it 
really does buoy one up. And you know how happy I really am, 
apart from" the temporary feeling of separation. Our future 
life seems so full of hope and joys of the best kind. I always 
wanted sympathy, but I never knew before what it can be in 
its highest sense, for our sympathies are endless. . . . 

If all the world came and told me that a man’s love for his 
■wife lessens, or his consideration for her slackens, I should 
never think of it with you. I am so sure that your love, and your 
tender care of me is more deep and lasting than all else beside. 

Oxford. Sep. 30, 1896^ 
... It was most horrid that we should part a^m, but it 
could npt be helpt. . . . Your people naturally want to see as 
much of you as possible during the next six days, and it is 
fairly reasonable that we should accede to their wishes, hard 
as it will be for both of us to be apart for so long a time, but 
the day will soon arrive when we shall meet for ever and we shall 
then have nobody’s wishes but our own to consider for the rest 
of our lives. I do so long for that happy and eventful day to 
come. I shall have no peace of mind now until it does come, 
but I wdll do my best to drown this awful feeling of loneliness 
by hard work 

On my return [from West Kirby] I found a letter from 
Bo^ess, and think we shall be quite comfortable at the Old 
England Hotel. As you will see from the enclosed, it is a l^ge 
place* and the^Proprietor promises ‘to reserve nice rooms’ for 



ROMANCE 


338 

US. My old work-mates are going to have a ‘big’ teaparty to 
celebrate our weddirig. I do wish we could have been present 
with them ; it would have given you a good idea of what hard- 
headed Yorkshiremen are ^ke. I also found an invitation to 
attend a big meeting at Bradford on Oct 9th, but* shall decline 
It. . . 

The enclosed notice of the Dictionary appeared in the 
*Athen£Eum last Saturday. It is the longest that has yet ap- 
peared. I like it very much, because whoever wroffe it under- 
stands something about the subject and has taken thg trouble 
to point out some defects It will do good in the learned world. 
Lizzie darling, people little know all about the origin of that 
work, but they shall know someday, for had not my great love 
and reverence for you inspired me to undertake such an 
arduous task, no other cause could have made me face it. I 
faced It with a willing and cheerful heart, in the hope thafr it 
would be pleasing to you some day. As I told you months ago, 
it is a sacred task to me. And Lizzie, my dear Lizzie, this is not 
the only big work I will do. I'here is one other which I hope to 
begin in earnest m a year or so So you see, I mean to be a very 
very busy man for the next 20 years, and yet I shall always have 
lots of time to spend with you in the afternoons and evenings. 
We were Both very idle the last few days, but there ts a time 
for everything, and now is the time for that sweet repose which 
we both have earned. It is not in our nature to be always idle; 
and this little fact will add much to our future happiness. For 
I am sure you could never have loved an idle man. I always 
felt that to gain your love would require a very great effort on 
my part, in order to make myself in some degree worthy of it. 
And now that I have it, I am the happiest and proudest man 
alive. ... 

Oxfbrd. mOct. I, 1896. 

Of wedding presents there seems to be no end. Four 
arrived today, and two others were announced by lettdPT. , . 
Why people should think that I am worthy of such presents is 
beyond me. I have never done anything to merit them, and 



ENGAGEMENT 339 

I can’ only assume that they are sent to me because peq)le 
don’t know your address. . . . ' 

I am so sorry there is such a great change in the tr ams . . . . 
When you §ee Bradshaw you will ^gree that we have no choice 
but to leave W.K. at 3.15. Your people may think that this 
l*oks like hurrymg things a bit. ... If we aye married at 145 
according to your onginal arrangement, it will leave ample; 
time for all concerned. . . . 

I never Snew what love and real life were until I beheld you 
Img lor^ ago. *I derived both from you, and you know, my 
dear dear ‘Lizzie, how very much I treasure them now, and 
shall continue to treasure them more and more as long as 
there is any breath left in me, for you have given me the one 
thing for whfch I yearned years and years before we ever met, 
but when, we did meet, an inward voice said imto me : that shall 
be* thine or none . ... I cannot tell you how much I rejoice that 
it should all have come to pass. . . . When I think of all that we 
two are to each other, and what we shall be m the future, I am 
brimful of confidence that ours will be a model of married 
life. People may just say what they like about marriage being 
‘commonplace’, I daresay it is sometimes, but we know, don’t 
we darhng, that it is by no means so in our case. If jve were to 
sit down and think zealously to find one single point in which 
we are not in perfect harmony, I don’t beheve we could find 
one. And this is one of the very many assurances I have that 
we are entirely one in heart and soul, and that the longer we 
live the more we shall be drawn more closely together even in 
little insignificant thmgs. The last week has taught me that 
more clearly than ever. For Lizzie darhng, these few days gave 
me just a taste of what our future life together wiU be hke. I 
was constantly thinking about it when you kept asking me: 
What are yofi thinking about? . . . 

I^have faced unflinchmgly in days gone by the most temble 
tasks in order to qualify myself somewhat for your love. And 
had not my gyeat love for you inspired me with the greatest 
courage, determmation, and strength to bear it all, I should 

XX2 



ROMANCE 


34 ° 

often have despaired.. Lizzie darling, it is just a man’s loVe for 
a truly good woman that enables him to overcome with eg!se 
almost insuperable difficulties. 

I should like to say much nxore, but have had a loiig-interrup- 
tion, first from Prof. Max Muller and then from Dr. Krebs. . . 

West Kirby. Oct. i , 1896. 

... I have been packing most of today. I am a little afraid 
that you will be shocked at the amount of my luggage, but you 
‘live and learn’ . . . and many a bride would ha> 7 e more 4 I was 
told yesterday that I was ‘the most interesting “person in 
West Kirby!’ . 

I rejoice in your perfect confidence in my capacity for 
making you a good wife. You know I shall always do my best. 

. . . And you don’t know what a comfort it is to thiijk I have 
you always to take care of me. It gives one such courage afld 
strength, as nothing else could, because your goodness and 
love are so unfailing, and unlimited, one need never stop to 
think if it IS there or not at any given moment! I think it is 
uncertainty which is weakening, but with certainty to ‘back 
one up’, one can do much . . . 

It is woQderful to think I have lived to find a man who even 
exceeded the high ideals I had of what a husband ought to be. 
Joe darling, I do believe you were saved from that railwaji 
accident for me, and for the good and useful work in the world 
you have done and will do for love of me. I was much impressed 
by that story. ... I count the days till Tuesday, and feel that 
day is a day when life will open out for me into a long stretch 
of happiness, and peace, and usefulness. 


Oxford. Oct. 2, 1896. 
Annie came this evening ... I have of course evely confidence 
that she will be a good servant, but that still remains to be ^^n. 
All I can say is that I have very very high notions of how a 
house ought to be kept in order, if she attains, that standard 
I shall be very glad, but the standard is not easily attained. 



ENGAGEMENT 341 

I think you must have seen that when, you and Mrs. Mott 
looked over the old house. When I want to see whether a 
house is well kept, I don’t go all over the place with my eyes 
sticking out like bottle-necks, thete are a few test points where 
any but a really first-class servant will fail, that’s where to look. 
¥ou see, my darhng, when I first started hqusekeeping I went 
into the whole subject thoroughly: m short, made a most 
serious study of the subject, and the result is that I am very 
exacting. 1 dare say you will also find me rather ‘well up’ m 
general household economy. ... I will not trouble you with 
the readirtg of such mere details, I know you will manage a 
house infinitely better than I could. I should not have men- 
tioned these thmgs at all had you not asked me what I thought 
of Anme. . *. 

The Qjntroller of the Press said tonight that he should hoist 
the flag on Tuesday and give all the men connected with the 
Dictionary a holiday, so I decided to give the Assistants a 
holiday too. This pleased me very much, because I am always 
so proud when people show regard for my dearly beloved 
Lizzie. 

Mr. Stevenson is coming tomorrow to stay with me until 
Monday mornmg. . . . 

West Kirhy. Oct. 2, 1896. 

... I did not trouble to look up Bradshaw, I left it all to you. 
Indeed, a Bradshaw is not to be had in this benighted spot. . . . 
Mamma remarked something to me this mormng about my 
‘lord and master’ — so I said I ‘did not own such’, but she says 
I have hitherto acted as if I did — ^but the conversation was not 
senous. You will understand that I continue to be quite 
cheerful, when I tell you that Mamma said to me this morn- 
ing: ‘I think you get joyfuller and joyfuller every day.’ So 
there' . . . 

5^qji are qmte right about our being in ‘perfect harmony’ 
with one another, even m little things. I am quite sure it is so, 
and always wijl be. I have absolutely no doubt of it. It gives 
onq such a sense of calm and peace about the future, and so 



ROMANCE 


342 

makes one quite fear-less, and that of itself means happiness. 
I hate an atmosphere of uncertainty, or of restlessness. (Payse 
— ^to greet Aunt Annie ) I think you will like Aunt Anme, she 
IS a good old soul, and she Wears a grey curl hanging behind 
each ear. 

Yes . . ., we diji learn more than ever this last week, how 
happy we shall be together. I never before felt such a sense 
of radiant happiness — not that I am naturally an unh^py being, 
or a discontented one, only I have never been used to over- 
flomng happiness before! And, Joe darling, it i§ you and your 
love only which has given me this. You don’t know how much 
I have already gained by knowing you, and I know I shall gain 
much more. I have such a sense of abundant freedom to come, 
and yet constant guidance too, to keep me from being silly and 
foolish in the use of my new powers. I am afraid J shall be 
fearfully like a ‘young reformer’ at first, and make lots'of 
mistakes, but you will always be there to keep me from sitting 
down in despair. . . . 

If for no other reason, I should seek to learn wisdom for 
fear you should ever be disappointed in me I suppose some 
wives are contented to be looked to by their husbands as 
capable of jinderstanding only part of their husband’s life, but 
I should be miserable in such a case. ‘Much wants more’, they 
say. I have all, and want it all^ and nothing less will eve3» 
content me, in this matter I am more ‘grasping’ than the most 
avaricious miser who ever grasped after gold. And yet, Joe 
darling, I am quite satisfied. When I go to church on Tuesday 
to be married to you, there will be no shadow of doubt 
or fear in my heart. We two have come to the stage of 
that ‘perfect love’ which ‘casteth out fear’. . . . 

Oxford. Oct. 3, 1896. 

. . . Yes, you are quite right about the ‘lord and mf^ter’, 
there never can be such a person in our home, for we are one 
in everything, little and big. That is just one of the many things 
which assures me so much that our happmess will be lasting, 



ENGAGEMENT 


343 

and that the longer we live the more we shall reahze the perfect 
harmony that dwells within us. . . . 

We havfe been drawn closely together in a manner that few 
people haye ever experienced, ©urs is not a blind love, it is 
something iar nobler and loftier . . . And we shall begm our 
new path of life on a most sohd and durable basis. 

I brought a few nice books from the ‘Workshop’ to read on 
our honeymoon. I have not yet read them myself, so they are 
entirely new to me. I shall also pack up Paradise Regained, 
and J. S. Mill’s The Subjection (!I) of Women. Don’t be 
frightened by the strange title; he takes entirely our views on 
the subject, and I am sure you will say it is one of the noblest 
books m the English Language. It is a book after your own 
heart. . . . 

I am 50 pleased to hear that you get ‘joyfuller’ every day, 
arid it pleases me all the more that your Mother thinks so too. 

. , . No, Lizzie dear, you can’t convmce me that you will make 
a lot of ‘mistakes at first’. Every woman has to learn much by 
experience in'household management, but that does not mean 
a lot of mistakes. The plain and simple truth is that household 
management is not half so difficult, half so time-absorbing, as 
many married women would lead you to suppose.. It’s when 
a woman manages badly that most of her time is taken up. . . . 
When you get that great independence of action which is so 
necessary to your whole being, self-reliance will come to you 
at once. I know that, and a great deal more too, but I have 
not fimp to say it just now. Suffice it to say that I have the 
most implicit confidence that our home will be a'perfect reflex 
’of what you have always been. There is not one single little 
thing about which we can ever have two opinions, for remember, 
my dear, dear Lizzie, we are starting life with the most perfect 
assurance in*each other ... our ideals are so very much ahke 
that shall always go on our way rejoicmg. There will be 
no*going backwards with us, but forward! will always be our 
motto in all tfeat we shall ever have to do. For with our love 
it could not be otherwise. . . . 



344 


ROMANCE 


West Ktrby. Oc«. 4, '1896. 

Your letter this morning was very invigorating and inspiritig. 

. . . Just think, we shall meet tomorrow, and only the day after 
tomorrow is our wedding-dSy' It seems almost ‘too good to 
be true’ that it should have come at last. I do like* to hear you 
say that you believe I shall be competent and capable in looking 
after a house. I only know that unless you have that faith in 
me, I shall not be capable of it For not only your^great love, 
but your faith in me down to the venest details, is strength and 
power to me ... 

I don’t want a life of luxury and ease, but I shrink from 
thorns and stones, and you nerve me on to work, and yet make 
the path smooth. . . 

You know how confidently I look to Tuesday as the day 
when we both begin to live as we have never done befpre, a life 
that shall be full of love, kept high and noble by continued 
striving ‘forward’ after high ideals, and by continued work . . 

ever your own Lizzie (Lea for the last time). 

• Oxford. Oct. 4, 1896. 

Here beginneth the end of letters! . I am sorry to hear 
that the time-table for your bemghted railway is still all out of 
gear, but we will manage to catch the 4.10 at Liverpool. . . . 
You don’t know how I shall rejoice when our train starts from 
W.K. I shall overflow with joy and gladness to feel that we 
shall part no more. . . . ^ 

We shall not mind it, if ‘all W K. does come to the wedding’. 
I am sure we shall feel all the more happy at the idea of so 
many people being interested in our wedding. I dare say I may 
look a bit sheepish on the occasion, but I shan’t be the least bit 
nervous ; the very opposite, I shall be inwardly rejoicing with 
all my heart that my Beloved and I are being joFned together 
for ever. ... I do wish I could convey to you in words ij^hgt a 
good and devoted husband I will be to you. ... If ever a man 
lived wholly and solely for a woman, I think / anj that man. . . . 

I feel the very greatest confidence in our future happiness in 



ENGAGEMENT 


345 

every way. And nothing in the world could possibly shake that 
confidence. I know that you are all the better for realizing fully 
that ‘all niy trust is in you’, for if you did not feel it, there 
would be sQinething lacking. It i^ just that perfect trust in, and 
unbounded 'sympathy for each other that will make our path in 
life easy. Many maraed people do love eachjother with all their 
heart and soul, but Lizzie dear, that is not enough to ensure 
perfect happiness. There are other quahties^quired to make 
married life what it should be. And we nave those other 
qualities in the highest degree. I always thought we should 
have then! when we came to know each other properly, and 
I have felt long ago that we have reason to be very thankful 
that we are'just what we are. Nothing less would have satisfied 
either of us in the long run. Our whole nature required some- 
thing more than profound mutual love. . . . 

It is the greatest blessing on earth to any man to have a wife 
whom he does look up to. You know. Darling, we have often 
discussed these things together and we are quite clear about the 
relations that*should exist between man and wife. And when 
Tuesday does come — I do wish it were here this very mmut®, 
I am just pining for it— we shall have no searching of hearts 
• about our future life. . . . 

I gavb you many years ago my whole love and I cannot tell 
you how I feel when I think of your love to me now. 

Goodbye until tomorrow my dear dear Lizzie, 

ever your very own, 

Joe. 


The weather on October 6 had made a mistake as to the 
nature of the coming event, so our marriage behed the old 
superstition. Rajn never poured on a happier bnde. The 
actual of the weddmg had been a moot point almost to the 

lasljijxunute, owing to uncertainty about trains for getting away 
afterwards, and my brother, who camedown from London only 
that aaommg *to ‘give me away’, was unaware of the final 
decision, and humed the bridal party off from the house a 



ROMANCE 


34 ^ 

quarter of an hour sooner than he should have done. I arrived 
at one door of the church, and saw Joseph Wright and ]\Jr. 
Stevenson entering by another. My eldest brother* who was 
to marry us, was still in the vestry, unsurpliced^ and busy 
preparing the Registers. I had to wait in the porch till he was 
ready. Joseph Wjight has often told his friends that the 
marriage service in our case was over and done with before it 
was supposed tXhave started. My mother did not wish for 
more than a very quiet ceremony, and Joseph Wright was only 
too pleased that it should be such. Indeed, he'said he would 
not marry me if I came to church in a veil, since it Vas a sur- 
vival of barbarous custom, belonging to the days when a 
man bought a bride he had never seen. He submitted to the 
etiquette of having a ‘best man’, but said afterwards that it 
was the latter who was nervous and needed support, whereas 
the bridegroom had nerves enough and to spare. We spent a 
week at Bowness in glorious autumn sunshine, when the Lake 
District was in ail its beauty, and then we went for a few days 
to Ilkley, that we might be within reach of Joseph Wright’s 
nwther and brothers at Wmdhill. It was a short honeymoon, 
but Joseph Wright could not ajfford to be away from his ‘Work- 
shop’ any longer. So we returned to take up marned hfe to- 
gether in Oxford. A very old fnend wrote to me a few weeks 
ago saying: ‘I well remember one Sunday morning we over- 
took Mrs. M., walking down to St. Giles’ [church] — you and 
Professor Wright were walking down on the opposite side — 
Mrs. M. said “there goes the happiest couple in Oxford”, and 
we all believed it.’ 

We rarely ever separated, even for a day at a time, and thenr 
only when it was absolutely necessary, as when our respective 
mothers came to their last illness. One calendar month spread 
over the first seven years, and then twenty-sev^ years with 
never a break of one single day till the hand of Death canje and 
separated us — ^in so far only as that hand may reach. 

Joseph Wright was wont to say that when a ^oan marries it 
is an incentive to increased powers of mind and wider activities, 



ENGAGEMENT 347 

but that in the woman her intellectual growth usually stops, 
sftid in time she falls behind and ceases te be intellectually the 
companion of her husband. From the outset he did all Jie could 
to help me to avoid this danger. I still did a little teaching, 
though of ooprse I had been obli^d to resign my post on the 
s^|d 0 f of the A.E.W. He liked me to keep on with the work to 
some extent, not merely since it was m acSordance with his 
creed that I should do so, but also from a practical point 
of view, for it brought grist to the mill. He^lculated once 
that if I knitted stockings for him, when I imght be coaching 
a pupil, the stockmgs would cost about £10 per pair. It seems 
strange in these post-War days of high wages to remember 
how senously we had to calculate whether we could afford a 
cook so gobjl and efficient that she required {,20 a year! 
Finally we decided that if she would help supervise a young 
girl for the housework we would take her. We found an 
excellent girl who gladly came for a wage of £10 a year. The 
wonderful ‘Anme’ had been my mother’s cook for a time, and 
knew exactly 4 he kind of housekeeping that had been’ always 
instilled into me, so she set everything gomg like clockwork, 
the while she made me think I was an extraordmanly clever 
housekeeper. When she tearfully gave me ‘notice’, and went 
away to marry a substantial farmer, I found out some of my 
deficiencies. Joseph Wnght was innately a poet and an ideahst, 
Ihit he was also a clear-headed man of busmess. He had care- 
fully figured it out that it would not be sound economy for me 
to do my own cooking or housework^ Love was the essential 
consideration, but nevertheless thought must be given to run- 
ning the cottage on sound financial hues. Langdaie House was 
hot literally a cottage, but its rental was very low for its size, 
because Park Town, with its ugly Crescent, was not genteel 
Oxford, real ^ent*hty hardly reaching as far north as Norham 
Road. Once upon a time the Corporation had thought the 
sedusion of Park Town a fit place to build a Workhouse, but 
public opinion managed to forbid the plans, even though the 
stone# for buHding were already on the spot. The materials 



348 ROMANCE 

were then used to build some really good detached houses, but 
the stigma remaine'd-as a blot on the locality. I maintained tfeiit 
it was Joseph Wright’s residence there that removed the stigma, 
for by the time we left. Park Town had become qui^e a dig^tied 
neighbourhood, and the rfintal of Langdale Hqu^ when we 
quitted it in 1904 rose to proportionate heights. 

The one wish'of my heart was to take some share in the 
Dialect Dictionary, and this wish was now fulfilled. Never, 
I imagine, hsftN^ook of its kind been so much a jsital part of 
two people’s hv^. When I look back to its beginning, it seems 
to have a sort of personality of its own. Joseph Wright took up 
a literary idea, and made it a great emprise in Love’s romancci 
He says m one of his letters : ‘ It was no mere strange coincidence 
that the first Part of my life’s work was published on the very 
day of our engagement.’ It was mterwoven with our daily life 
in those early years which form the foundation ofi enduring 
happiness in the home ; it was the last word on his lips when he 
knew his course was finished and that he was leaving me to tell 
the story of his ‘life’s work’ alone, whilst he went forward to 
receive the crown of nghteousness laid up for him in another 
world. ‘The one thing I wish to be remembered by is the 
Dialect Dictionary’ was his oft-repeated injunction to me when 
we talked-about this Biography. But the genesis and building 
up of the Dictionary must be described in another chapter.